Reasons for the collapse of Absolute Monarchy in France 1789

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Economic Crisis

  • Joined American War of Independence 1778-incurred huge debts
  • Debts spiralling out of control, at Louis' ascension in 1774 debt set to rise to 112 million livres at 1786
  • Rising price of bread- 88% of wages spent on bread Spring 1789
  • Rising unemployment 
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Challenges to the King

Sieyes and Mirabeau declared Third Estate as the National Assembly 17 June 1789. Clergy joined 19 June

Tennis Court Oath - mounting opposition to king from National Assembly. National fervour growing 20 June 1789

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Public order breakdown

Dismissal of Necker, 11 July. King used foreign troops to suppress crowds.

12-13 July - Caused panic, mobs raided gun shops. Food stores raided. National Guard set up by wealthy citizens to protect shops.

14 July - Mob seizes 28,000 muskets from Hotel des Invaildes. Accompanied by National Guard to demand powder from Bastille, eventually stormed. Royal Troops pulled out of Paris. King lost control of Paris

Summer 1789 - Spurred on surrender of King and nobles, mass rioting and looting in countryside on Chateau's and Grain stores 

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Consolidation of Power of National Assembley

August Decrees (4th August) - To calm peasants in countryside, Feual Rights abolished, Fair taxation established. in a whirl of national fervour. Ancien Regime at an end. 

October Days - 7,000 women and 20,000 National Guard storm Versailles. Force him to agree with August Decrees and return to Paris.  

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Works of philosophes quoted in French parlements 1760s and 1780s

Attacks on ministerial despotism taken from works of Rouseau

Rise of literary societies which discussed problems with France

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Historian's views

George Taylor - Revolution was accident that could have been avoided if there was a better Monarch than Louis

William Doyle - Agreed, it was not a social conflict but a political accident

Marxists - Ernest Labrouse made links between rising economic crisis and and outbreak of revolution, said rev. was down to peasantry and borgeoisie

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