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Long term causes of the french revolution

Titus Mundia The French revolution of 1789 is great an event in the history of world. The French Revolution had many long-range causes. Political, social, religious and economic conditions in France contributed to the discontent felt by many French people-especially those of the third estate.

The French Philosophers like Rousseau Montesquieu, Voltaire awakened people against this injustice and inspired them for revolution. Therefore the main aim of this essay is discuss the long term causes of the French Revolution. Social causes were a major long term causes that brought about the French Revolution.

In the 18th century, France was a feudal country with class divisions. The first class composed of the nobles. They were rich, landlords, exempted from tax. They have their own tax, 'Tally', on common people. Higher posts in civil and military were reserved for them. They were living luxuriously.

They were doing injustice and exploitation of common people for many years. Taking prizes and presents from people.

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Montesquieu defined this feudal like - "who can talk to king, communicate to minister, has pension, loan and hereditary rights is feudal. Religion had great influence on King and people. They were rich and tax free. Even they collect their own tax, 'tithes' from people.

They were away from religious duties, busy in getting sympathy of the king and royal family. They had much respect and rights. Lived luxuriously like feudal and exploited common people. The third Estate comprised of common people. This class was in majority but living in very grave situation.

Working like bonded labours on land of upper class. It is sufficient to clear the inequality. This third estate included doctors, advocates, professors, teachers, journalists, farmers, workers etc. They had not any chance in administration. This middle class led the people during revolution. So this class was waiting for opportunity to raise voice against this inequality.

  • This is what gave the Declaration of the Rights of Man a far greater international resonance than the American models that inspired it; what made the innovations of France--including its new political vocabulary--more readily accepted outside; which created its ambiguities and conflicts; and, not least, what turned it into the epic, the terrible, the spectacular, the apocalyptic event which gave it a sort of uniqueness, both horrifying and inspiring;
  • Politically, it made democracy respectable and fashionable in French society as the Comte De Segur suggests "I was far from being the only one whose heart palpitated at the sound of the growing awakening of liberty".

Kropotkin vividly paints the picture of the common people as he posits that; 1 The people groaned under the burden of taxes levied by the State, rents and contributions paid to the lord, tithes collected by the clergy, as well as under long term causes of the french revolution forced labour exacted by all three.

Entire populations were reduced to beggary and wandered on the roads to the number of five, ten or twenty thousand men, women and children in every province; in 1777, one million one hundred thousand persons were officially declared to be beggars. According to Kropotkin the people in 1789 had caught a glimpse of the light of approaching freedom, and for that reason they rose with good heart. But to hope was not enough, to act was also necessary; the first rebels who prepare a revolution must be ready to give their lives, and this the people did.

The French middle classes had studied Turgot and Adam Smith, the creators of political economy. They knew that the theories of those writers had already been applied in England, and they envied their middle-class neighbors across the Channel their powerful economic organization, just as they envied them their political power.

Political causes were another major long term causes of the French revolution. The political condition in France was grave due to a number of factors. Despotic rule of Burbo dynasty is one of the factors which made grave the political condition in France. From 1553 there was despotic rule of Burbo dynasty in France. Every king ruled unlimitedly.

Total power was centralised. From 1614 the session of parliament Estate General was not called. Some colonies were acquired. All power was centralized with king. So his word was Law and justice. Every province had different law system, feudals and clergies had their own laws. So there were hundreds of law systems in nation. Laws were unwritten, not clear, unequal, and unjust.

Voltaire says while travelling in France found many law systems than number of horses changed in travel.

Discuss the long term causes of the French Revolution

Many courts were on various levels. Military, political, religious courts were there. Judges were from upper class and royal family only. Uniformity was not in judiciary. Judges were getting salaries without working.

II. Short-term causes

Corruption was in judiciary punishments were inhuman. There was not system of appeal. Aggressive policy of mercantilisms was the third factor that made grave political condition of long before the revolution in 1789. Burbo rulers accepted imperial policy.

France established colonies in Africa and Asia. French East India Company also helped to this policy. On this issue France had to fight with many European countries. It caused to much economic loss. During 1748-60 France had to fight against England over influence in India, in which France was defeated.

Due to economic loss injustice taxes imposed upon people. So, the aggressive policies of mercantilisms were not at all beneficial to the nation. Louis XIV also ruined the political condition of France. He was ruling France at the time of revolution. But the background was already prepared for revolution. He was not interested in politics, though he was king of nation.

  1. Stronger, further centralized state with a larger, more effective and more intrusive administration. Judges were from upper class and royal family only.
  2. Corruption was in judiciary punishments were inhuman.
  3. Now the American War of Independence, combined with food shortages and political disturbances was to cause a revolution.
  4. They were rich, landlords, exempted from tax. The eighteenth-century philosophes had long been sapping the foundations of the law-and-order societies of that period, wherein political power, as well as an immense share of the wealth belonged to the aristocracy and the clergy, whilst the mass of the people were nothing but beasts of burden to the ruling classes.

His hobbies were strange like repairing locks, hunting etc. He was not strong enough to administer the nation. He said to his ex-minister, 'how fortunate you are; I wish I could resign too. He did not care for people. But by advice of upper class he introduced oppressive policy and opposed the revolution. So the revolution became inevitable. The political and ideological impact of the American war of Independence on France contributed to causing the French Revolution.

Politically, it made democracy respectable and fashionable in French society as the Comte De Segur suggests "I was far from being the only one whose heart palpitated at the sound of the growing awakening of liberty".

The War showed the French how victory over oppression was feasible and the American way of life came to be considered as the perfect one. Thirteen American colonies fought against British Empire during 1776 to 1783 and got independence. In 1776 England declared war against America.

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Under the leadership of Lafayat French troops were sent to help America. French army got valuable experience and inspiration there. They thought that we can also overthrow unwanted own government. It is notable that this Lafayat played very important role in the French revolution.

Economic causes were yet another major long term causes of the French revolution. Feudal economy is one of the economic causes. Government did nothing to improve farming, feudals also neglected it. Exploited farmers and serfs were waiting for change. Unsatisfied merchants, was another economic cause of the French revolution. There was ample mineral wealth in France. Many rivers like Sen, Rhoan, Luar and Atlantic, Mediterrian sea shore were useful for development of trade.

Many ports and cities were there.

  • As the French Revolution demonstrated, the level of violence is likely to be greater after the first outbreak of revolution or revolutionary situation, as one group claiming sovereignty seeks to vanquish one or more other rival groups also claiming sovereignty;
  • Social antagonisms between two rising groups;
  • Montesquieu is one of the Enlightenment writers who influenced the French population to revolt in 1789;
  • So there were hundreds of law systems in nation.

Trade of silk and cotton, wooden furniture, liquor, steel was developed. French East India Company was existed for foreign trade. But by the negligence of government and exploitation by upper class the downfall of traders was encouraged.

The financial crisis made the revolution that much closer as Cowie suggests: Now the American War of Independence, combined with food shortages and political disturbances was to cause a revolution. The philosophes were great men in France who wrote about the situation of France in Europe and criticized the French political, social and economic system. To stress the influence of the philosophes as one of the broader cause of the French revolution I look at the works of Montesquieu and Voltaire and establish the positive contributions they made to fuel the French revolution.