The Origins of the French Revolution/ Chapter 1


1. Long-term causes of the French Revolution

  • The authority of the French Crown was not limited by any representative body (absolutism)
  • In 1770 Louis married Marie Antoinette who (revolutionaries believe) has influenced the King. Her supporters (Austrian party) were suspected of sacrificing the interests of France
  • Taxation system was both chaotic and ineffiecient ( tax farming when private company collected the indirect tax and paid agreed sum to the State, keeping anything above)
    1774 Louis appoints Turgot as Controller General. He tried to reform trade guilds, tax system but he was disliked by many other interested parties so left office soon.
  • French society and ancien regime with 3 estates. First estate was exempt from taxes, were involved in pluralism(were bishops in more than 1 diocese) and absenteeism (therefore were always absent from 1 diocese). First estate was also paid tithes and had power over the people. Second estate owned third of France land and were also exempt from taxes (gabelle) and military service. Also had exclusive rights to hunting and had monopoly rights. Third estate no privileges, no status, no wealth, poverty, serfdom continued to exist, had the highest tax burden( gabelle, taille) and also paid land to landlords.
  • The Enlightment ideas emerged in Europe. They questioned the absolutism, Church, laws, equality, they also rejected


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