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The French Revolution. What were the causes of the French Revolution?. IMAGINE. You are a hardworking peasant, barely surviving. Buying food costs HALF of your income while 10% goes to the church and the rest to taxes.

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the french revolution

The French Revolution

What were the causes of the French Revolution?

  • You are a hardworking peasant, barely surviving.
  • Buying food costs HALF of your income while 10% goes to the church and the rest to taxes.
  • You are taxed the most out of any group yet you have no voice in your government.
enlightenment ideas lead to revolution
Enlightenment Ideas lead to Revolution
  • Philosophers like Locke, Rousseau and Voltaire critiqued divine right and government oppression.
    • Locke even encouraged revolution!
    • Inspired by these philosophers and the American revolution
  • Enlightenment inspires democratic thinking and urges reform of Absolutism
3 economic trouble
3. Economic Trouble
  • Economic woes added to the social unrest and heightened tension (5 reasons for this financial crisis)
  • For years, the French government had engaged in deficit spending that is, a government’s spending more money than it takes in.
  • Louis XIV had left France deeply in debt. Recent wars, a general rise in costs in the 1700s,
  • The lavish court at Versailles was incredibly costly.
  • To bridge the gap between income and expenses, the government borrowed more and more money.
  • Bad harvests in the late 1780s sent food prices soaring and brought hunger to poorer peasants and city dwellers.
  • Failure to Reform- Louis 16th chose a smart financial advisor who advised taxing the nobles and clergy, but he refused to listen and instead fired him.


4 louis xvi summons the estates general
4. Louis XVI summons the Estates General
  • Wealthy and powerful insisted the King call the Estates general (had not been called in 175 years!)
  • The Estates General included representatives from each of the 3 estates
    • PROBLEM: These three estates voted as a whole group, each group received ONE vote.
      • Third Estate was constantly outvoted
    • So how should we vote?
5 tennis court oath
5. Tennis Court Oath
  • Third estate instead forms the National Assembly, disbanding the Estates general and asking members of the other estates to join.
  • Frustrated by the deadlock in voting, and finding themselves locked out of the meeting area, members of the third estate moved their meeting to the nearby indoor tennis courts
  • Tennis Court oath: members of the 3rd estate, now the National Assembly, vowed not to stop meeting until they had drawn up a constitution for France.
6 storming of the bastille
6. Storming of the Bastille

On July 14, 1789, more than 800 Parisians gathered outside the Bastille, a medieval fortress used as a prison. They demanded weapons believed to be stored there.

The commander of the Bastille opened fire on the crowd, and a battle ensued, in which many people were killed.

7. The storming of the Bastille

quickly became a symbol of the

French Revolution,

a blow to tyranny.

Today, the French still celebrate

July 14 as Bastille Day.

an account of the storming
An Account of the Storming

Veteran armies have never performed greater feats of valor than this leaderless multitude of persons belonging to every class. Workmen of all trades, who mostly ill equipped and unused to arms, boldly affronted the fire from the ramparts and seemed to mock the thunderbolts the enemy hurled at them…

The fury of the crowd continued to increase and their blind wrath did not spare the Marquis de Launay…his head stuck on the point of a pike.