The Relationship between the French Revolution and Economic Depression

Powerful Essays
The Relationship between the French Revolution and Economic Depression

In June 1789 the French revolution had begun. For the next five years there would be bloodshed throughout France, the country was going through a radical change, the change in sovereignty and the failure of the constitutional monarchy being two examples of this. But to what extent was all this caused by economic distress? Before being able to answer the question, one would have to establish the definition of 'economic distress' it could be defined as the misery people (especially the peasantry) faced due to low income and tax inflation or the misery that the entire country was in due to the enormous debts, which had accumulated due to the wars, which were fought. The economic situation was only one of the elements that caused the people to question the monarchy in pre-revolutionary France. France was in great debt and almost bankrupt but this did not stop them from fighting wars. The debt -- an economic problem -- turned into a social one, when the peasants were taxed heavily in order to pay for the debt, this caused them to question greatly their position in society and the effectiveness of their monarchy. Drought and other natural disasters ruined crop production, causing food prices to rise dramatically. With taxes rising and prices too, peasants were living in famine and in poor living conditions. The enlightenment was able to inspire revolutionary thoughts within the people. People began to abandon their beliefs in divine right and focused more on the thoughts of equality and society being run for the benefit of all. The economic situation only made people realize other problems concerning politics and society. A revolution (The complete overthrow o...

... middle of paper ... of the social hierarchy. They became even more aware of this when they faced starvation and the wealthy landowners benefited in the high prices of grain causing them to want a change in the economical situation of the country (more controlled and less free trade). The nobility could hold as much blame for the revolution as the king as they were the people who made up the parlement and refused to accept any reform to taxes, which was what caused the most conflict. Although the monarchy and church blamed the philosophers of the enlightenment for spreading revolutionary ideas, their ideas were not actually revolutionary. The church was worried because their beliefs brought about an alternative to Christianity and the social hierarchy, which they had lived with for so long


Oxford book of the French Revolution