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The French Revolution

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The French Revolution

Gradually after the American Revolution, France had it's own Revolution in 1789. The French were very unhappy with their current status, jobs, and living conditions. They saw what the Americans did to achieve liberty, and how successful they were. Many of them had also read the writings of the philosophers and believed that change was necessary. Nevertheless, the main problems that led to the French Revolution were deep debt, competition between social classes, and the unlawful conduct of the king.

Debt was one of the problems that led France toward a Revolution. France was badly in debt after participating in the American Revolution and after Kings Louis XIV's and Louis XVI's enormous expenses. In order to save France from bankruptcy, Louis XVI called on the Estates General for help. The Estates General was made up of the First (clergy), Second (nobility), and Third (everyone else) Estate. However there was a lot of conflict within the Third Estate, because it was made up of everyone who was not part of the royal family, clergy, or nobility. The Third Estate was very unsatisfied because although it contained over 80 percent of the population, it still had the same one vote as the other two Estates with fewer people. Thus it re-named itself the National Assembly in June of 1789 and claimed itself the representative body of the people. The Assembly did not aid the King in his financial troubles, yet it demanded many changes to France's absolute monarchy and legislative system.

Many of the laws that were passed in France had also become extremely burdensome to the common people because they excluded the clergy and nobility from paying taxes. Louis XVI tried to help the economy, by raising taxes in 1786. But this only made matters worse, because peasants were unable to pay. Harvest was also poor and food very expensive. People were enraged of hearing stories of lavish parties at the fine houses and palaces, where a lot of food was served, which was either wasted or given to the dogs afterwards. The demand for manufactured goods fell, and many artisans, traders and farmers were without work. People were angry and began to revolt. In July of 1789, they stormed the Bastille killing many people, and in October of 1789 angry middleclass women marched to Versailles demanding that the royal family move to Paris and action be taken to help feed the people.
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