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Exploring the Factors Leading to the French Revolution

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Exploring the Factors Leading to the French Revolution The French Revolution began due to many different reasons. The French Revolution of 1789 had many long-range causes. Political, social, and economic conditions in France contributed to the discontent felt by many French people-especially those of the third estate. The bad harvest of 1788, the weakness of Louis XVI, the financial crisis of 1789, the ideas of the enlightenment, the failure to bring in reform and also the structure of French Society. I believe that the state French society was in, is the main reason why revolution broke out in France. Under the Ancien Regime, French Society was divided into three estates. The first estate consisted of clergy. They included archbishops, bishops, abbots, parish priests, monks and nuns. They were exempt from taxation. However, the Assembly of the clergy, dominated by bishops, negotiated with the King to make an annual payment to the crown, know as the “don gratuit”. It was always much less than they would have paid in normal taxation and was under 5% of the clerical income. They made up 2% of the population. The First Estate owned nearly 10 per cent of all land in France and therefore was the single largest landowner in France. Also, the top people in the church also held important government posts, the third estate resented this a lot. The second estate was made up of nobles and they were the most powerful. They managed to pay much less then they should have for the capitation and the vingtieme (taxes). They were also generally exempt from the most onerous tax of all, the taille. . Nobles were generally the richest members of the society. The nobles held nearly all the highest positions ... ... middle of paper ... ...w taxes were opposed as the first and second estate had been exempt from taxation and were not willing to start paying taxes now. They could outvote the third estate by two to one as each estate only had one vote. Even though the third estate had 578 representatives, they were unable to outvote the first two estates, as there was no voting by head. In conclusion, the most important factor in causing the French Revolution was the way in which French society was structured. The fact that only the poorest, the third estate, had to pay taxes was extremely unfair. Also, the fact that they had almost no political power annoyed them greatly. The failure to reform and the fact that Louis was a weak king were also very important, as Necker may have been able to reform the tax system had it not been for his indecisiveness.
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