What its income and its expense. Marie Antoinette was

What problems in
France led to the French Revolution?  – The beginning of the end.


How the French revolution started is
fundamental to know. The French revolution is known to be one of the most important
revolution to happen, and the one everyone learned from. There are many reasons
that ignited this war.  There were
cultural, social, economic and financial reasons why this war started.

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King Louis XVI was named king at a young age,
not ready to take on the responsibility of a country. He inherited a country
that was already falling apart. This father, King XV, fought the seven years
war against England, in which France had no victories. France became bankrupt
due to over expenditure in wares and luxury. When King XVI became king the economy
became weak. He was a simple man but he was influenced by his queen Marie Antoinette
who always interefered in the state affairs.  The revolution was the government’s inability to
balance its income and its expense. Marie Antoinette was known to spend money
in luxury items, while most of the population was dying from hunger. King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette
continued to spend lavishly and live a life of luxury in Palace of Versailles during
the difficult economic times.  Their spending habits increased the French
debt.  The king tried to impose taxation on the Second Estate, but was
unable to influence changes because he was not a strong leader.

King was in constant rivalry with its neighbors. So forth, France raised a 400,00-soldier
army, that was costly. France aided the Britain’s American colonies in their war
for independence. Americas success cost France more debt.


Another reason, the Revolution began was
because societies thought process changed. People no longer believed what they were
told and began to think for themselves. The Enlightenment was a philosophical movement
that began in Europe during the late 17th and early 18th
century.  Enlightenment philosophers began
to question traditional authority and embraced the notion that humanity could
be improved through rational change. The primary philosophers that impacted French
society were Locke, Voltaire and Rousseau.

The educated bourgeoisie were the people who
were familiar with the writings of Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau. They were
also familiar with the British system of government that limited the King’s
power and the success of the Americans in rebelling against the British king
that was based on Enlightenment ideas. It was the bourgeoisie, who allotted to
the first and second estate that began to question whether they could also change
their social and political standing in France. 
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was passed by
the National Assembly on August 4, 1789, a plan for Constitutional government. People
no longer wanted the king to have absolute power and that is why this declaration
was created, so that the people could have equal rights. “Article 1. Men are
born free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may only be bases on common
usefulness.” 1


Social inequality
was also one the causes of the French Revolution.   Socially France still
operated under a feudal class system called the “Ancien Regime,” or
“Old Order” in the 18th century.  The top of the “Ancien
Regime” was the absolute monarch.  Then the “Ancien Regime”
divided French society into three groups, called the Estates.  

The First Estate included the Roman Catholic Clergy which made up
1% of the population.  The First Estate had many privileges that most of
French society did not, including exemption from taxation and many laws.
 The Second Estate was the French nobility and made up less than 2% of the
population.  The nobility was the wealthiest class in French society, but
paid few taxes.  The Third Estate included over 95% of the French
population.  The Third Estate included groups that paid most of the French
taxes, but had no role in government.  The Third Estate included the
bourgeoise, the growing professional and merchant class, the san culottes, the
working class and artisans, and the peasants, who were typically miserably
poor. Politically each Estate had a vote in a representative body called the
Estates General.  The Estate-General only was called to meet when
warranted by King Louis XVI.  Each Estate only had one vote and typically
the First and Second Estate would vote together making it difficult for the
Third Estate to make positive changes.  It was unfair for the Third Estate
to have only one vote since over 95% of the population belonged to the Third
Estate. To try to make things more “fair” now there was 600 people to represent
the third estate, that made no difference. The third estate wanted the vote to
go by person not by estate but obviously that would not work good for the first
two estates. The Third Estate later call themselves the National Assembly. The members
take Tennis Court Oath, pledging to not cease meeting until they create a new France


Along with the King and Queens financial
issues came the economic issues. The economic condition of France formed another
cause for the outbreak of the French Revolution. As I mentioned before the
economic condition of France became poor due to the foreign wars of Louis XIV,
the seven years’ War of Louis XV and other expensive wars and  that during the reign period of Louis XVI, the
royal treasury became empty as extravagant expenses of his queen Marie

To get rid of this
condition. Louis XVI appointed Turgot as his Finance Minister in 1774. Turgot
tried to minimize the expenditure of the royal court. He also advised the king
to impose taxes on every classes of the society. But due to the interference of
Queen Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI dismissed Turgot. Then Necker was appointed
as the Finance Minister in 1776. He published a report on the income and
expenditure of the State to arouse the people. But he was also dismissed by the

The next person who was
appointed by the King as the Finance Minister of France in 1783 was Callone. He
adapted the policy of borrowing to meet the expenditure of the royal court. But
due to this policy, the national debt of France increased from 300,000,000 to
600,000,000 Franks only in three years. Then Callone proposed to impose taxes
on all the classes. But he was dismissed by the king. In this situation, the
king at last summoned the Estates General. The economic instability formed one
of the most important causes of the French Revolution.

Along with economic problems
came food shortages that arose from several crop failures, drought and cattle decease
throughout the 1780’s.  Bread was scarce causing extremely high prices.
 Peasants not only were heavily tax, but many were starving. Peasants
expressed desperation and resentment by rioting, looting and striking against a
regime that failed to provide relief. French government kept spending more
monet than it was receiving by taxes.