Anu Osibajo, Group #7 1984 Exam. Thematic Essay: The essential cause of the French Revolution was the collision between a powerful rising bourgeoisie and an entrenched aristocracy defending its privileges.
Thematic Essay: The essential cause of the French Revolution was the collision between a powerful rising bourgeoisie and an entrenched aristocracy defending its privileges.
Critical Trigger Words: Essential (primary) Cause (reason/why it happens) Assess (examine) Validity (accuracy) Explanation of the Events (analysis)
Two Step Direction Phrase: Research the eve of the French Revolution. Describe and detail aspects that led to the revolution not just social, but political/economic. Assess the reign of the previous Bourbon kings before the French Rev.
The French Revolution destabilized the previous dogmatic Ancien Regime; corrupting the previous political, social and ecclesiastical structures of Europe. Due to modernization in philosophy and education, along with the Enlightenment: individuals were able to question their previous fixed position. In the traditional period before the revolution, the third estate was oppressed by the government and their “superiors”, the bureaucrats were outraged from their lack of participation in the government and economic pressures burden all of France. The French Revolution was primarily a build up of various political, economic and social distress from over a century.
The post-revolutionary period was filled with ambitions to limit arbitrary rule. The Bourbon dynasty under Louis XV’s rule dismissed the Parlaments, who previously checked the king’s ability to tax and arbitrary legislation. Unfortunately, at this point the France had acquired a large some of debts through their previous Seven Years War, the Palace of Versailles, and other ambitions. The debt was the result of a lack of understanding and communication with the aristocracy and the monarchy; hence when the king dismissed the Parlaments he still relied on their taxes. Louis XV was a predominately weak ruler, but the dissolution of the Parlaments was the forerunner of the upcoming aristocratic out roar.
Unfortunately, the reign of Louis XV brought unfair pressures on his successor, Louis XVI. Not only did he have to deal with a nation suffering from a large national debt, but he had to endure rising discontent from both the bureaucrats and the poor. Louis XVI brought back the Parlaments in 1774, so it could replenish the broken relationship between the monarchy and the bureaucrats. He also called in various financial ministers to create tax reforms and fix the burdened economy. Nevertheless, the aristocracy was unmoved by his actions and the Estates General was called because of the political deadlock between the French Monarchy and the first two estates. The Estates General would now be the only structure that could administer new taxes. Soon, the estates system will develop its own internal problems due to the admission of the Third Estate into political life.
The Estates General was a direct way of governing alongside the monarchy, now representatives of the estates had personal authority to administer taxes. Nevertheless, conflict arouse between the Third Estates’ bourgeoisie, and the first and second estates. The third estate consisted of the majority; representatives were wealthy members of the commercial or the professional middle classes. They did not wish for the monarchy or the aristocracy to decide the future of the nation. So when all the estates had received the same amount of votes; the first two estates voted together, which undermined the third estates’ vote. Louis XVI doubled the third estates’ votes, creating a deadlock in the estates system. This would further allow his involvement in the representative government, these internal conflicts continued throughout the Estates System and eventually the Third Estate declared itself as the National Assembly because it the greatest percentage of the nation represented in government. Future disputes arouse between the social classes; in June of 1789 the National Assembly found themselves locked out of their meeting place and took the Tennis Court Oath, in aspirations for a constitution.
The conflicts that arouse between the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy developed within centuries of Ancien Regime suppression. With the philosophy of the Abbes Sieyes and the Enlightenment, the Third Estate did not view themselves as a lower class. They were the majority and in their eyes they had the right to determine the fate of their nation. Not only was the third estate able to seize government from the aristocracy, but they became the leading figures of the revolution. They were the individuals that would soon become key figures in the upcoming phases and especially, in the Reign of Terror. Unfortunately, the Third Estate did break up at the height of the revolution into the Girondists and the Jacobins. Nevertheless, the essential cause of the revolution was not, at first, the collision between the ambitions of the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy. Those conflicts did develop over time with the admittance of the Estates General. The causes of the French Revolution vary and are extensive starting from the reign of Louis XIV developing the Palace of Versailles and continuing with the dismissal of the Parlaments in 1771.