The French Revolution 4 Essay Research Paper

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The French Revolution 4 Essay, Research Paper THE FRENCH REVOLUTION The French Revolution was one of the greatest rebellions of the people against the government, but what were the issues that caused it to happen? What possessed the citizens of France to rise up against such a powerful monarchy? Long- term issues relating to the economy and social structure, the new philosophies in France, and the decreasing power of the king were the main reasons that this uprising precipitated. It is a common misconception that the French Revolution was an uprising of the peasants against the aristocrats. In actuality, the French Revolution was a revolt started by the middle-class and finished by the peasants. In the eighteenth century trade and commerce was growing in France. This economic

change brought a rise to the Bourgeoisie or middle-class. Although many members of the middle-class had a larger income than members of the nobility, the taxes they were required to pay, prevented them from moving up in society. Throughout time and empires, problems with the economy have ruined civilizations, and eighteenth century France was no different. Preceding the revolution France had taken active roles in many wars. These wars included the Wars of Louis XIV, Seven Years War, and the American War for Independence. In the Seven Years War France lost many of its colonies to Britain, this caused resentment in France. All these wars over time had put the French government in large debt. The only way for the government to return borrowed money was to increase taxes. The

government created tension in the social system because a vast majority of French society thought the taxation was unjust because only a certain group of people was taxed. The social system in France was divided into what was called Estates. The first estate was the Roman Catholic Church, the second estate was the aristocracy, and the third estate consisted of both the peasantry and the bourgeoisie (middle-class). Another characteristic of French society was the feudal system. In this system a feudal lord (land lord) would own a large plot of land where peasants would farm and live. These feudal lords, who were members of the second estate, were paid in harvest as well as in currency. This feudal system was also called the manorial system. This system did not the peasantry happy,

because their well being depended on their harvest, which caused problems when the crop was bad. For example, if there were a famine on the grain harvest, the bread prices would rise. This expressed the economic idea of supply and demand, where supply decreases, price increases. In French society, the first and second estates were tax exempt, leaving only the third estate to bear the burden of the debt of their country. The taxes that were to be paid were the Tithe (one-tenth of their yearly income to be paid to the church), the Taille (land tax), the Vingtieme (one-twentieth of yearly income only during war time), Capitation (poll tax), and the Gabelle (salt tax). This extremely large percent of income taken by the French government prevented the third estate from gathering

wealth and moving up in the estate system. Another inefficiency of this taxation system was that the debt the French government had too big of a debt to depend on only the third estate. Over time this led to major problems in the relationship between the people and the government. One more burden that added to the troubles of the third estate was the three masters that added many more costs to daily life. The first master was the landlord. Along with paying money and grain to maintain land, a member of the third estate had to pay to use the wine press. Also, the third estate had to pay for bread (ironically, they were paying for the bread that was made with their own grain). The second master was the Church. The Church was another burden to the third estate because the Roman