Essay on Social Misery and Economic Depression in the Late Eighteenth Century

Essay on Social Misery and Economic Depression in the Late Eighteenth Century

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In eighteenth century France, King Louis XVI’s subjects were split into three very different classes, or estates—the First Estate, the Second Estate, and lastly, the Third Estate, who made up the greater part of the French population. The First Estate consisted of clergymen, who protected tradition and preserved the status quo, while the Second Estate consisted of nobles, who regulated guilds and contributed very little in terms of taxpaying. The last estate was the Third Estate, whose members were those that lacked any real unity as the kingdom’s commoners, and they made up the ninety-seven percent of the French population (Popkin 11). It was this Third Estate who had to shoulder the burden of paying the majority of the taxes in France, and it was because of this injustice that caused them to desire reforms in social equality and the tax system (Chang).
During the late eighteenth century, France’s economy was suffering from a depression because of the Seven Years War (1756-1783), the War of Austrian Succession (1740-1748) (Frey 57), and the American War (1777-1783) (Heath 68). In an attempt to slow depression, the taxes of the Third Estate were raised, which significantly emphasized how much of a disadvantage the Third Estate was at in France, and how greatly it was affected by changes in the economy (Clough 34), especially since the members of the Third Estate were the ones who had to pay an immense portion of the taxes in French society. Because of these facts, they now lead me to ask: if the social misery of the Third Estate and the economic depression that lasted from 1787 to 1789 did not exist, how else would the French Revolution have taken place?
Through extensive research, I have discovered that it was precisely thes...


... middle of paper ...


...2004. Print.
Chang, Edmond. “From Theory to Revolution: American and French Experiences Compared.” Copley International Conference Center 101, San Diego, CA. 03 October 2013. Lecture.
Clough, Shepard Bancroft. France: A History of National Economics, 1789-1939. New York: Octagon Books, Inc, 1964. Print.
Dabney, Richard, H. The Causes of the French Revolution. New York: Henry Hold and Company, 1888. Print.
Frey, Linda S. and Marsha L. The French Revolution. Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc, 2004. Print.
Heath, D.C. The Economic Origins of the French Revolution: Poverty or Prosperity?. United States of America: D.C. Heath and Company, 1958. Print.
Jordan, David P. The King’s Trial. London: University of California Press, Ltd., 1979. Print.
Popkin, Jeremy D. A Short History of the French Revolution. New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc., 2006. Print.

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