The French Revolution 4 Essay Research Paper — страница 2

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Catholic Church collected the Tithe. Finally, the third master of the peasants was the king, who collected all taxes except the Tithe. Being the first estate of French society, the Roman Catholic Church had a powerful influence on the masses. Problems with the Church started arising during the Enlightenment. This occurred because people began to question the authority and the ideology of the Roman Catholic Church. The roots of these doubts lay in the Scientific Revolution. This revolution of thought was to put beliefs into science rather than religion, and to emphasize truth rather than faith. The disproof of the Geocentric Theory (the belief that the earth revolves around the sun) by Galileo made people doubt the validity of the Church s beliefs. Also, the numerous cases of

heresy claimed by the Church showed how worried the Church was about being overpowered, or exposed . The Church tried to suppress this scientific movement by claiming that scientists of the time that were speaking out against the church were committing heresy. Tension towards the Roman Catholic Church and the French judicial system were already mounting but the Calas Affair set off a major movement against these institutions. The Calas affair took place in Toulouse, France in the early 1760s. Jean Calas was a French Calvinist and a prominent merchant. In 1761 one of his four sons, Marc-Antoine hung himself inside one of his father s warehouses. Immediately it was suggested that Jean Calas was guilty of murdering his own son to prevent him from converting to Christianity. On March

ninth, 1762, by a vote of eight to five, Jon Calas was wrongly sentenced to torture. He was brutally tortured for day, and eventually broken at the wheel (when one is tied up and every bone in one s body is broken with a steel bar) and burnt. After his brutal death, his family went to Voltaire to argue their case. Voltaire proved that Jean Calas was innocent of the crime he was executed for, and the parliament of Toulouse immediately pronounced Calas innocent. This enraged many people, and led people to speak out against the church and government. After the John Calas Affair made people more aware of he imperfections in their government. During the late eighteenth century, the French citizens were dissatisfied with the monarchy in France. People realized that in the past century,

kings were spending money in a very grandiose manner (the Ch teau in Versailles was an example of this). They were spending more money than they had, and this offended the citizens because an increase in spending would result in the elevation of taxes for the third estate. These factors made the Roman Catholic Church and the French monarchy vulnerable to public criticism. This dislike of the church and the king led to a time called the Enlightenment. This was a time when a group of people called the Philosophes brought about a new ideology in France. Three main people influenced the anti-church anti-monarchy thought in France. These men were Voltaire, Diderot, and Montesquieu. Voltaire weakened the Roman Catholic Church through his various publications. Diderot attacked the

church through public speaking and publications. Finally Montesquieu attacked the French government. Although there were many issues that led up to the French Revolution, there was only one conflict that set off the French Revolution. The government had finally fallen into bankruptcy in 1787, and Louis XVI had realized that the only way to be able to pay of the debts the country had was to tax the nobles. The problem with this idea was that the nobility refused to pay. The second estate declared that the only way that they would agree to pay taxes was if the king called an Estates General and the people of France voted on taxing the nobles. Some historians believe that the Estates-General could have been avoided if Louis XVI had been more decisive and made mild reforms on his

own. If he did this, a large public congregation could have been averted. Louis XVI decided he needed to take his chances and call an Estates General in Versailles. At this Estates General was where the problems arose. Along with the main problem with taxes many citizens brought other ideas for the government, but they were turned down. This built tension inside the third estate. When the vote for the taxes was declined, the third estate became enraged that they were ninety five percent of society, and yet their vote meant close to nothing. Due to their strong opposition to the government, many members of the third estate gathered on an indoor tennis court in the Palace of Versailles and refused to leave until a new constitution was written. This was known as the Tennis Court