On July 14, 1789 a large mob stormed the Bastille, and killed the commander and some other soldiers. The fall of the Bastille marked the beginning of the French Revolution, and was a symbol to the people of France representing years of abuse by the monarchy. Also, this event served as a wake-up call to King Louis XVI. Unlike any other short protest or riot, this event actually challenge to the regime. As the French Revolution progressed, French society underwent a transformation as feudal, religious, and aristocratic privileges disappeared and the ancien régime were abruptly overthrown under the fundamental principle of “Liberté, égalité, fraternité”. Although there are many causes to the French Revolution, the three main ones are: the mismanagement of the economy, the pressure of taxes placed primarily onto the third estate, and the spark from Enlightenment ideas and the American Revolution. These events set a fire in France that could no longer be contained. It spread through France like a wildfire.
The first cause to the French Revolution was the mismanagement of the economy. Louis XIV had left France deeply in debt with his extravagant spending. France’s Involvement in the Seven Years’ War and American Revolution put it deeper down the hole. Costs had generally risen during the 1700’s and the lavish court soaked up millions. The government borrowed more and more money to bridge the gap between income and expenses. Years of deficit spending, or spending more than the income, was taking its toll on the country’s treasury. By 1789, half of the country’s income from taxes went to paying the interest on this debt. Louis XVI was forced to raise taxes to pay back the debts, leading to further tension and revolt. The first cause to the French Revolution was the pressure that taxes placed onto the Third Estate, or anyone that wasn’t nobility or clergy. This included the wealthier middle class, or bourgeoisie, and the extremely poor working class and rural farmers. While the poor suffered from the agonizing taxes, the rich nobility and clergy didn’t suffer these taxes because of tradition which granted the nobles and clergy freedom from paying taxes.
The political crisis of 1789 coincided with the worst famine in memory, and as taxes rose, tension rose. When taxing the First and Second Estates was proposed by the king’s advisor, Jacques Necker, the nobles and high clergy resisted the attempt to end their exemption from taxes and forced the king to dismiss him. As the crisis deepened, the pressure for reform grew. The wealthy class demanded, however, that the king summon the Estates-General, the legislative body consisting of representatives of the three estates, before making any changes. This event later backfired on the wealthy with the creation of the National Assembly which established many reforms. The last reason to the French Revolution was the spark of Enlightenment ideas and the American Revolution.
This spark set fire to the French Revolution and roared across the country. Many people believed in the ideas of “equality” and “freedom of the individual” as presented Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot and other philosophers and social theorists of the Enlightenment. They especially favored John Locke’s idea that if a government violates the people’s natural rights, the people have the right to replace that government. These ideas of life, liberty, and equality had contributed to the creation of the American Revolution and the newly formed American government served as a live example of the proper structure of government.
They helped with the creation of new reforms to make life in France better. On July 14, 1789 a large mob stormed the Bastille and began started the French Revolution. The causes of this event were the mismanagement of the economy by the king, the resulting tax pressure placed onto the poor Third Estate, and the spark of Enlightenment and American Revolution reasoning. The French Revolution had accomplished its desired goal of more equal government and it still has an impact on the world. Till this day, the French celebrate Bastille Day as their national independence day.
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