The French Revolution had many causes. Some of the causes were dealt with political, social, and economical reasons. Out of the three estates, the third was the most dissatisfied with the conditions. The ideas of the Enlightenment lead to new views of the government and society. In this essay three causes of the French revolution will be discussed.
One of the major cause of the French Revolution was the clashes between the diverse types of social classes in French society, first, second, and thirds estate. The third estate demanded changes from the French government. As stated in document 3, three changes were to reform the abuses and tyranny of letter de cachet, the tax on land should be equally paid by all classes, votes of the third estate should be taken by head. The largest group of the third estates was the rural peasants. Some were prosperous landowners who hired laborers to work for them. The bourgeoisie sat at the top of the middle class. They consisted of prosperous bankers, merchants, and manufacturers. It also included the officials who staffed the royal bureaucracy, as well as lawyers, doctors, journalists, professors, and skilled artisans.
The poor people of the estates were extremely poor indeed as told in document 1. There is an inequality in taxes the each group must pay. Lands owned by the nobility are taxed lower than the lands owned by commoners. The price of bread had risen too high for the poor people to pay. In the third estate the urban workers were the poorest. They earned miserable wage. The slightest rise in food could lead to hunger or starvation. Peasants were forbidden to kill rabbits that ate their crops, but the nobles could. Peasants were angry when nobles hurt by rising prices tried to reinstate old manor dues.
The middle class had knowledge of the ideas of the enlightenment. This caused them to want reforms. As quoted from document 4, which is an excerpt from The French Revolution, by Albert Mathiez, “The Revolution came from them – the middle class.” The middle class asked for a lot and they wanted equality. Due to the pressure for reforms, the king summoned an Estates General. Louis XVI had all three estates prepare cahiers listing their grievances. This way the estates got to put down in righting what the wanted changed or revised. Many cahiers called for reforms such as fairer taxes, freedom of the press, or regular meetings of the Estates General. The third estate had probably made most of these reforms.
As seen above the middle class had a lot to do with the French revolution. Some were extremely poor and some were wealthy but they were all treated the same. This applied to all the estates. Clashes between the diverse types of social classes in French society, the poor people of the estates being extremely poor, and the middle class’ knowledge of the ideas of the enlightenment, were all causes of the French Revolution.
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