The French Revolution

The fateful French Revolution (1789 – 1799) began under King Louis XVI. Among the contributing factors leading up to the revolution were three things:

  • The salon culture: private home talks about politics and ideas. This is significant because it helped to develop Enlightenment ideas that would later fuel the revolution.
  • Special privileges for the nobility. These privileges were mainly tax exemptions, which caused worse finances for the French government.
  • The major debt crisis. Due to all the wars, and participation in wars, the French were just managing to pay the interest rates of their loans. This alone consumed fifty-percent of their budget.

So, in 1789 the king called a meeting of the Estates General. This was a collection of three parties that voted for laws, taxes, etc…. One party was the 1st Estate, made up of the clergy. Another party was the 2nd Estate, consisting of the nobility. Yet another party was the 3rd Estate, the commoners, in other words the rest of France. In the Estates General, the voting was made by estate (3 votes), instead of by head. This made the voting unfair. Even though the 3rd Estate greatly outnumbered the 1st and 2nd combined, the latter often voted together, making the vote count 2:1.

1st, 2nd, and 3rd estates

1st, 2nd and 3rd Estates with the 3rd Carrying the Other Two

 

In 1789, for the first time in history the 3rd Estate took sudden charge of the meeting. They outright decided without any legal permission to Continue reading