The Enlightment and the French Revolution

1271 Words6 Pages
In France during the 18th century, there was a system named the Ancien régime, which refers to the societal, economic and political structure of France before the French Revolution. At the top of the pyramid was the absolute monarch Louis XVI. He took the throne in 1774 and received it with problems that couldn’t be fixed. (French Revolution Overview 6) Below the king came the first estate which was made of 100,000 nobles. Then came the second estate was made of 300,000 clergy. Finally came the third estate which was made of the rest of France, which was 23.5 million people. 90 percent of that 23.5 million were peasants. The third estate’s taxes ensured the financial well-being of the state, clergy and nobles. (French Revolution Overview 6) Eventually, the inequalities of this system led to a revolution, this revolution was heavily influenced by the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was a period of dramatic intellectual, philosophical, and scientific growth. (Relationship between the Enlightenment and the French Revolution 11) The base of the Enlightenment lays in the work of people such as John Locke, who argued in favor of natural rights, republicanism, limited government and the social contract. Later philosophes challenged common wisdom and accepted scientific, social, and religious norms. Philosophes were overall critical of absolutism and existing hierarchies. (The Relationship between the Enlightenment and the French Revolution Remains Complex and Controversial 11)The basic idea of the Enlightenment was the idea of reason. In their scientific reasoning, Enlightenment intellectuals challenged the traditional teachings of Christianity by going against the teachings and beliefs of the Catholic Church. They also advocated relig... ... middle of paper ... at the start of the revolution. He was a horrible ruler, which was terrible for the country at that time. The Third Estate was tired of being treated how they were and the Enlightenment gave peasants ideas of freedom and a democratic government. They wanted more power and an actual say in the government. They were given one tenth for their crops, which caused them starvation. They had trouble paying for bread, while the others classes feasted away. Finally, they began violent revolts. Then, in 1794 Robespierre came into power. He was a horrible ruler, who killed thousands of men unjustly. There weren't fair trials, and anyone suspected was executed. Eventually, he was arrested and overthrown, and the New Constitution with newer ideas that gave people unalienable rights, was issued. After much work sweat and tears it was apparent they got exactly what they wanted.
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