"It was the economic crisis alone which led to the outbreak of revolution in 1789." Do you agree with this interpretation?

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“It was the economic crisis alone which led to the outbreak of

revolution in 1789.” Do you agree with this interpretation?

The outbreak of Revolution in France in 1789 was not the result of one factor, but a series of interwoven factors. The economic crisis served as a serious threat to French stability since it resulted in the first challenge to the king’s absolution and the revolt of the traditionally loyal nobility. However, the difficulties occurring in 1789 were not purely economic. The Ancien Regime caused many problems in French society, particularly due to the heavy taxes imposed on the Third Estate. Furthermore, the American war of independence, coinciding with enlightenment ideology and a growing middle class posed further questions about the absolutism of Louis XVI. Nevertheless, it was the series of events in 1789 beginning with the flawed calling of the Estates general, which would unleash revolutionary and uncontrollable forces in France. Thus, it was not the economic crisis alone which led to the outbreak of revolution in 1789 although it did contribute.

A major contributory factor in the outbreak of revolution in France in 1789 was long term economic problems. The lack of taxation from the first and second estates meant that the highest wage earners, mostly in the second estate, were not contributing to the countries economy. As soon as members of the third estate earned enough money they would purchase a title which would mean that they no longer had to pay the taxes of the third estate. As well as causing major economic problems, it also built up bad feeling within the third estate. Also, a series of bad harvests beginning in 1730 meant that food prices were increasing (by around 48% from 1730-89) whereas wages were not increasing by as large an amount (11%). 88% of workers wages were spent on bread alone by 1789. Two other trades were used mainly to supplement farm workers earnings, these were weaving and wine making. They however, provided an unstable income. A final long term economic cause was France’s involvement in a serious of wars, the final one being the American War of Independence. There was a massive amount of expenditure going into this war, and coupled with the bad taxation system the French economy could never make as much money as was being spent.

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Social factors also contributed to the outbreak of revolution, many of these came from the estate system of the Ancien Regime. As mentioned previously, the members of the third estate were dissatisfied with their payment of all taxes. The third estate were the people who did most of the work in order to keep the country going in the sense that they collected the raw materials and processed them. They resented the fact that they were working extremely hard yet receiving very little privilege. They were a large percentage of the population and the unrest here meant that there was ...

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