Causes of the French Revolution

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  • Causes of the French Revolution
    • Ancien Regime
    • American War of Independence
      • 1778-1783 It had drained an already ailing treasury.
        • Many loans were taken to finance the war, and they were all demanding mounting interest payments.
          • In supporting the rebels in the AWOI the approximate finance was 1066 million livers (mainly raised through loans)
      • Important in terms of influencing enlightenment movement. (Ideas like liberty and freedom from an absolute monarch, and democracy)
      • There was no financial gain once the war was won.
    • Enlightenment
      • Was a movement which regulated society politics and the economy and even morality.
      • Ideas would protect the people from the evils of despotism, feudalism and clericalism (ancien regime).
      • Main watchword was liberty, equaluty and fraternity.
        • Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains. (Rousseau)
      • Movement challenged religious and idea of absoulute monarch.
        • King's position as god's representative (divine right) was questioned.
      • Thinkers: 1)Voltaire. 2)Montesquieu. 3)John Locke. 4)Diderot. 5)Rousseau.
        • Robspeirre was deeply influenced by Rousseau
    • Political Crisis
      • King: Apathy and Naivity to deal with problems effectively.
      • Ancien Regime
    • Economic Crisis
      • In two years defect has increased by 14 million.
        • This is a massive rise. That indicates that the crown is doing nothing to solve the crisis.
      • French economy was based on the agriculture - HARVEST GOES WRONG o_O
        • There had been a steady and successful trajectory between 1730-1770: good harvest had resulted in good surpluses which contributed to an increase in the population.
        • Bad Harvest for over 10 years since 1778 till 1786 - Domino affect: since there was no industrial revolution, bad harvests caused  mass unemployment and starvation.
          • Because of the harvest landowners were accused of hoarding grain (MADE PEASANTS ANGRY)
      • Normally half of the laborers wage would go on bread, 1788-1789 it was 88%.
      • By 1788 France was declared bankrupt.
    • 7 Years War
      • Was very expensive/financially exasperating for France (especially when losing)
      • Suffered major defeats, lost majority of its empire which was one of the sources of income.
        • Defeats in India, North America.
      • Loss in 7-year war means France feels the need to get revenge on Britain hence their involvement in the AWOI
    • King: Apathy and Naivity to deal with problems effectively.


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