Causes of the French Revolution

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Causes of the French Revolution

The French Revolution was essentially a class war between the emerging Bourgeoisie

against the Privileged class, this meant they saw the Privileged class as the only hurdle between themselves and equality within French society. Many of the ideas they pursued stemmed from the enlightenment and they believed that in order to gain their full economic, social and political potential and gain equality, the Bourgeoisie had to eradicate the privileges that were halting their rise in society. To do this they had to seize power for themselves and gaining power within the government and making badly needed changes, such as, improving the tax system, creating a fair system of production where profits went to the producer, improving the whole fiscal system of the government, improving the geographical divisions of France and the problems they caused, plus many more. The revolution was a fight for equality and recognition by the Bourgeoisie, it was not a revolt against poverty, for many of the French people had been living in poverty for centuries and had learnt to live with it.

France had prospered in the Eighteenth century. France had had no major famines or

plagues, its population had increased, there had been no wars on its soil, industry such as textiles was doing well and offshore trading had increased enormously. It was the

Bourgeoisie that had enabled this abundance of wealth and they were emerging as the

economic power inside France. But their new found power was being smothered by the

privileged class. The privileged class of nobility and clergy, who owned the bulk of the

land, were using their ancient rights to plunder most of the profits that were made by the lower classes. This meant that the; ìProsperity came only to those who held fairly large estates, who exercised feudal rights, or who could manipulate farm rents.î1 The only people who fell under these categories were the Nobles of the robe and the clergy. So in order to get the prosperity equally divided in society and thus profit themselves, the bourgeoisie had to get rid of the privileged classes ancient rights. To do this they had to revolt against the government, that supported the privileged classes and which was reluctant to make the necessary reforms. It is seen here that it was the Bourgeoisie were struggling against the Privileged class ...

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...hed to them, because their privileges were taking large percentages of profits, adding on-costs to goods, causing massive inflation and reducing the wages of the middle class. In order to do this though they had get the reforms they wanted by having a role in government and take some of the power from the king, because he supported the Aristocracy. At no point in the build up to the revolution did poverty become an issue, the Bourgeoisie were looking after their own interests and trying to create a equal society in which they would become the most powerful and richest.

Word Count:- 2,148 words


1. Johnson, D. (1970) The French Revolution, Wayland, London.

2. Townson, D. (1990) France in Revolution, Hodder and Stoughton, London.

3. Townson, D. (1990) France in Revolution, Hodder and Stoughton, London.


1. Microsoft Encarta, USA, Funk and Wagnall's, 1994

2. Ergang, R. Europe From the Renaissance to Waterloo Third Edition, USA, Heath and

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3. Townson, D. France in Revolution, London, Hodder and Stoghton, 1990

4. Fisher, H. A History of Europe Volume 2, G

Modern European History - French Revolution Essay - Jonah Haines - 1293
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