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Chapter 21. Part 1 Leading to the French Revolution. Louis XV 1715-1774. Great-grandson of Louis XIV The Nobility gained influence during his reign He allowed his ministers and mistresses to influence him. They controlled the affairs of state and were able to undermine the monarchy.

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chapter 21
Chapter 21

Part 1

Leading to the French Revolution

louis xv 1715 1774
Louis XV 1715-1774

Great-grandson of Louis XIV

The Nobility gained influence during his reign

He allowed his ministers and mistresses to influence him. They controlled the affairs of state and were able to undermine the monarchy

madame de pompadour
Madame de Pompadour

The most famous mistress of the 18th Century

Influenced Louis XV regarding appointments and foreign policy

the parlement the high court of paris
The Parlement(the High Court of Paris)

Was restored with the power to approve or disapprove the king’s decrees

The judges had once been members of the middle class (Louis XIV) who had worked their way into the Nobility of the Robe…(bought their offices) and by this time those families felt no obligation to the king (the Paulette)

the parlement refused
The Parlement Refused

To allow Louis XV to raise taxes to pay for the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years’ War

18 th century french kings
18th Century French Kings

Will deal with similar issues that the early Stuart kings in England did a century earlier: fighting over control over taxes with Parliament/Parlement)

The Paris Parlement ruled that the king could not levy taxes without the consent of the Parlement of Paris which acted as the representative of the nation

the paris parlement
The Paris Parlement

Was hugely supported by the educated public

(Influence of Montesquieu)

1768 louis xv
1768 Louis XV

Appointed Rene de Maupeou as his chancellor and ordered him to subdue judicial opposition

The Parlement of Paris was abolished and its members were exiled to isolated areas of the provinces

A new (royal-friendly) Parlement was created

the king began to tax privileged groups
The King began to tax privileged groups

French Philosophes and educated public were very critical of the new Parlement and Royal authority

louis xvi 1774 1792
Louis XVI 1774-1792

Grandson of Louis XV

dismissed Maupeou and repudiated his rules/laws

Old Parlement of Paris was reinstated

The Public hoped for reforms leading to a more representative government

But…another stalemate between king and judicial opponents

france in 1789
France in 1789
  • In many ways France was the most advanced country in Europe
  • The Largest in Population in the world: 25 Million
  • Wealthiest country in Europe (but not per capita)
  • Productive Economy (French exports to the European continent larger than British)
french culture dominated
French Culture Dominated
  • French was the language of diplomacy and was used in international courts
  • France was the center of the Enlightenment
  • French science led the world
  • Most powerful military in Europe
the three estates
The Three Estates
  • The First Estate: The Clergy
  • Less than 1% of the population but the Gallican Church owned 20% of the land in France
  • Exempt from taxes
  • Local Parishes suffered as income was drained by political appointees and high-ranking aristocrats within the Church
but the church in france
BUT the Church in France
  • and its role in the French Revolution has been exaggerated:
  • The French Church DID levy a tithe on agricultural products…but so did the English Church
  • Bishops DID play a role in government affairs…but the same for English Bishops
  • By 1789 the Church and monastic orders were in decline due to the Enlightenment
the second estate the nobility
The Second Estate: The Nobility
  • 2-4% of the total population (Sword and Robe)
  • Exempt from taxes (but Paulette was a factor)
  • Owned 25% of the land
  • Big resurgence since the death of Louis XIV
  • Continued to enjoy some medieval manorial rights that allowed them to tax peasants for their own profit
the third estate everyone else
The Third Estate: everyone else
  • Bore the majority of the tax burden:
  • Taille: land tax
  • Tithe: Church Tax (10%)
  • Income tax
  • Poll Tax
  • Salt Tax
  • Corvee
  • Had to honor feudal obligations: hunting rights of nobles, etc
  • The Bourgeoisie demanded political power that would reflect their economic power and contribution
  • Much resentment of the 1st and 2nd Estates who had all the power and not much economic responsibility
the bourgeoisie
The Bourgeoisie
  • Wanted tax relief for themselves and reduction of privileges of the nobility
lettre de cachet
Lettre de cachet
  • Were universally hated
  • The government could imprison anyone without charges or a trial
causes of the french revolution
Causes of the French Revolution

1. Was influenced by the American Revolution

  • Many French soldiers had served there
  • The French bourgeoisie and lower nobility were intrigued with the American ideals of liberty
  • Massive French aid to America increased the already-huge French debt
causes of the french revolution1
Causes of the French Revolution
  • The Rising expectations of the Enlightenment = increased criticism of the French Government
  • Theories of Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu, etc. were popular
  • Laissez-faire ideas of physiocrats were popular with middle class who resented government interference
  • Government corruption and inefficiency
  • Legal system was chaotic, no uniform laws
  • Privilege of the Nobility
  • Divine Right Theory did not fit with Enlightenment ideals
causes of the french revolution2
Causes of the French Revolution

3. The Three Estates did not reflect the realities of wealth and ability in French Society

historical view
Historical view:
  • Class Conflict led to the Revolution
  • The Bourgeoisie was united by economics and class interests and frustrated by feudal laws
  • Eventually rose up and led the 3rdEstate in revolution and abolished feudalism and established a capitalist order
the more recent view
The More Recent View
  • Class Conflict was exaggerated as a cause of the French Revolution
  • Both groups were increasingly linked by wealth and marriage
  • The wealthiest members of the Bourgeoisie moved easily into the Nobility of the Robe
  • Many Nobles had liberal (Enlightened) ideas
  • Parlement judges (nobles) supported the Bourgeoisie against the King’s attempt to increase taxes
the immediate cause of the french revolution
The Immediate Cause of the French Revolution:
  • Financial Mismanagement
  • By the reign of Louis XV France was nearly bankrupt
  • By the 1780’s ½ of French national budget went for payment of interest on growing debt
  • (BUT French debt was only ½ of British debt and less than Dutch debt)
financial mismanagement
Financial Mismanagement
  • The Government could no longer declare bankruptcy as it had in the past
  • Aristocrats and bourgeoisie would not longer allow it
  • France had no central bank, no paper currency, no means of creating credit
financial mismanagement1
Financial Mismanagement
  • The only way for the government to get more revenue was to increase taxes
  • The poorest classes were exploited
  • Also inefficiency and corruption of the tax system
financial mismanagement2
Financial Mismanagement
  • Inflation between 1730-80 caused higher prices but wages did not increase at the same rate
  • Prices up 65%
  • Wages up 22%
  • Privileged classes refused to share the burden
  • Louis XVI appointed Jacques Necker as director of Finances
jacques necker
Jacques Necker
  • Tried to tax the Nobility
  • But was blocked by the Paris Parliament
  • Was then dismissed
louis xvi
Louis XVI
  • 1787 The King summoned an Assembly of Notables
  • Louis XVI hoped That the Assembly would either approve the King’s new tax system OR agree to remove their own tax exemption
  • They Refused both
  • Then Assembly demanded that control of all government spending be given over to Provincial Assemblies (controlled by the nobility)
when louis refused
When Louis refused
  • Assembly maintained that sweeping tax changes required the approval of the Estates General
  • The King dismissed the Assembly of Notables and established new taxes by decree
  • The Parlemants blocked the king’s decrees and tried to force him to share fiscal power with the nobility
the parlements
The Parlements
  • Asserted the existance of certain “Fundamental Laws” against which no king could violate:
  • National consent to taxation
  • Freedom from arbitrary arrest and imprisonment (Lettre de cachet)
the royal response
The Royal Response
  • The king tried to exile judges but protests swept through the country and investors refused to advance more loans to the state
  • The King gave up
  • He reluctantly summoned the Estates General to Versailles may, 1789