7iIntroductionThe iFrench iRevolution iwas ia iwatershed ievent Essay



The iFrench iRevolution iwas ia iwatershed ievent iin imodern iEuropean ihistory ithat ibegan iin i1789 iand iended iin ithe ilate i1790s iwith ithe iascent iof iNapoleon iBonaparte. iDuring ithis iperiod, iFrench icitizens irazed iand iredesigned itheir icountry’s ipolitical ilandscape, iuprooting icenturies-old iinstitutions isuch ias iabsolute imonarchy iand ithe ifeudal isystem. iThe iupheaval iwas icaused iby iwidespread idiscontent iwith ithe iFrench imonarchy iand ithe ipoor ieconomic ipolicies iof iKing iLouis iXVI, iwho imet ihis ideath iby iguillotine, ias idid ihis iwife iMarie iAntoinette.

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iAlthough iit ifailed ito iachieve iall iof iits igoals iand iat itimes idegenerated iinto ia ichaotic ibloodbath, ithe iFrench iRevolution iplayed ia icritical irole iin ishaping imodern inations iby ishowing ithe iworld ithe ipower iinherent iin ithe iwill iof ithe ipeople.

Causes iof ithe iFrench iRevolution

As ithe i18th icentury idrew ito ia iclose, iFrance’s icostly iinvolvement iin ithe iAmerican iRevolution, iand iextravagant ispending iby iKing iLouis iXVI iand ihis ipredecessor, ihad ileft ithe icountry ion ithe ibrink iof ibankruptcy.

Not ionly iwere ithe iroyal icoffers idepleted, ibut itwo idecades iof ipoor iharvests, idrought, icattle idisease iand iskyrocketing ibread iprices ihad ikindled iunrest iamong ipeasants iand ithe iurban ipoor. iMany iexpressed itheir idesperation iand iresentment itoward ia iregime ithat iimposed iheavy itaxes i– iyet ifailed ito iprovide iany irelief i– iby irioting, ilooting iand istriking.

In ithe ifall iof i1786, iLouis iXVI’s icontroller igeneral, iCharles iAlexander ide iClone, iproposed ia ifinancial ireform ipackage ithat iincluded ia iuniversal iland itax ifrom iwhich ithe iprivileged iclasses iwould ino ilonger ibe iexempt.

To igarner isupport ifor ithese imeasures iand iforestall ia igrowing iaristocratic irevolt, ithe iking isummoned ithe iEstates-General i– ian iassembly irepresenting iFrance’s iclergy, inobility iand imiddle iclass i– ifor ithe ifirst itime isince i1614.

The imeeting iwas ischeduled ifor iMay i5, i1789; iin ithe imeantime, idelegates iof ithe ithree iestates ifrom ieach ilocality iwould icompile ilists iof igrievances ito ipresent ito ithe iking.

Rise iof ithe iThird iEstate

France’s ipopulation ihad ichanged iconsiderably isince i1614. iThe inon-aristocratic imembers iof ithe iThird iEstate inow irepresented i98 ipercent iof ithe ipeople ibut icould istill ibe ioutvoted iby ithe iother itwo ibodies.

In ithe ilead-up ito ithe iMay i5 imeeting, ithe iThird iEstate ibegan ito imobilize isupport ifor iequal irepresentation iand ithe iabolishment iof ithe inoble iveto—in iother iwords, ithey iwanted ivoting iby ihead iand inot iby istatus.

While iall iof ithe iorders ishared ia icommon idesire ifor ifiscal iand ijudicial ireform ias iwell ias ia imore irepresentative iform iof igovernment, ithe inobles iin iparticular iwere iloath ito igive iup ithe iprivileges ithey ienjoyed iunder ithe itraditional isystem.

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