French Revolution

During the late 1700’s, France followed in America’s footsteps towards their own revolution. A major shift in power would be seen within the short time period of 1789-1799, and with it a large advancement away from the absolutist government of France. During the late 1700’s France was the most powerful estate in the world. The effects of the country’s revolution would soon spread from France to the rest of Europe and finally result in a continental war.

The French Revolution was based mostly on the Third Estate’s desire to obtain liberty and equality. France’s social system was set up in such a way that it was only a matter of time before a revolution took place. The economic classes of France were set in three estates. The first estate was the church or clergy, the second estate was the nobles, and the third estate consisted of peasants and the uneducated. France’s economic system allowed for the highest taxation of the third estate while the clergy members were exempt from taxes, and the nobles paid little or no taxes at all. People who are starving and can barely afford to survive can only pay so much before they refuse to pay anymore. It is not surprising that the third estate was driven to immediate action with Louis XVI’s demand for higher taxes. Ideas of liberty and equality sprang up with the onset of the American Revolution and paved a way for the third estate to change France’s system of government. Philosophers such as Voltaire spread ideas of reform that excited the peasants to believe there was a chance for a better life.

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Louis appointed a man by the name of Robert Turgot ease the financial crisis of France, but he had difficulties when he tried to introduce a major reform. Turgot could not establish a change in the taxation policies of France. He was unable to introduce a higher tax to the second estate because the king could not tax the nobles unless the Parliament approved of the new tax laws. The people in the courts that voted on these laws were the nobles, called nobles of the robe, and therefore rejected Turgot's reform. After Turgot was rejected, the king fired him ...

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