Major causes of French Revolution

French Revolution was the period that stirred the imagination of Europeans, both participants and observers sensed that they were living in a pivotal age. There were many causes that led to the French Revolution, but the primary cause was the social structure and others were maladministration, financial disorder, enlightenments, and interference in the American war of independence and poverty. This essay is going to focus more on these factors. Social structure

Primary cause of the French Revolution was social structure. The old Regime refers to the measures of governance based on Monarchy/king and whose powers was despotic call authority vested on the Monarchy. During despotism the French society divided into three estates, the first estate, second estate, and the third estate. The first estates were the clergy and priests, the second estate were the nobilities or nobles, and the third state were the bourgeoisie, urban labours and peasants. The first estate or the clergy were enjoying privileges and the clergy did not pay tax instead determined the amount. The second estate enjoyed some privileges, they owned between one-quarter and one third of the land. The third estate were not enjoying any privileges, however, its success depended on the support given by the rest of the third estate. There was a vast inequality which caused the problem.


In general, it can be said that there is no instrumental relationship between the philosophers of the Enlightenment and the outbreak of the French Revolution. Writtings of the Philosophers influenced French society. Few philosophers, if any, advocated revolution and the reason is fairly clear. No philosopher advocated the violent overthrow of the existing order of things because violence was contrary to human reason. But because the philosophes of the Enlightenment attacked the established order together with authority of any kind, their ideas helped to produce what can only be called a revolutionary mentality. Most people used the work of philosophers to Question the French society using the ideas of philosophers as to seek reforms


Monarchy waged wars on other European countries including America, assisting in American war of independence. These wars shattered the economy of the state. Consequently, the state was either poor or bankrupt The American war of independence cost France a lot while the country already had a huge debt. As it became bankrupt it demanded heavy taxation on peasants and peasants realized that it was time to take action


France had no Parliament. However, the country did have an Estates General which was a semi-representative institution. The way the French administered the country was through an overstuffed bureaucracy of officials. By 1750, the bureaucracy had overgrown itself – it was large, corrupt and inefficient. Too many officials had bought and sold their offices over the years. This led to corruption and over taxation. France had no single, unified system of law. Each region determined its own laws based on the rule of the local Parliament. Most govt official were characterized by incompetency and inefficiency, There was corruption in the govt

Most officials had earned their positions in the govt through bribery, no qualification or talent, or competency to provide good governance

By 1789, France was bankrupt. The country could no longer pay its debts, debts that were all the result of war. One example says a great deal about this situation. By 1789, France was still paying off debts incurred by the wars of Louis XIV, that is, wars of the late 17th and early 18th century. Furthermore, a number of social groups and institutions did not pay taxes of any kind. Many universities were exempt from taxation as were the thirteen Parliaments, cites like Paris, the Church and the clergy, aristocracy and numerous members of the bourgeoisie.


Poverty was first caused by King Louis XIV because he had entered many wars and spent most of France`s money on Versailles. Another cause was King Louis XVI who sent out troops and money to help out in their American revolution. Marry Antoinette`s lavish living also contributed to poverty. Peasants were starving.

This led to bread riots and protests in Paris
That led revolutionary actions of July 1789; the Tennis Court Oath and the declaration of the National Assembly/ Constituent Assembly- 1791;the Storming of the Bastille and the great march to Versailles; France declared a Republic; the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen; Reforms introduced and constituted on the ideals of the Enlightened Philosophies.

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