The causes of the French Revolution
The French Revolution was both successful and a failure for many reasons. Some may believe it's one or the other, and others believe it to have been both. A few of the causes of the French Revolution were inequalities in society, ideas of enlightenment, and the financial crisis.
Inequalities in society began with the law called the Old Order, which divided the French by three different social classes also known as estates. These groups highly determined the wages and tax contributions of citizens of France. The first estate made up about one percent of the population of France, which is the Roman Catholic clergy. Since the Middle Ages, this clergy has had several privileges and advantages, and they did not have to answer to the same laws as everyone else including being exempt from paying taxes, and becoming very wealthy off of common people. They were resented for these things by the French. The second estate held the major positions in the government and military. The people that lived on country estates did all the work and were forced to pay very high fees and rents. The third estate, which is 97 percent of the population, and was made up of several groups. These included the bourgeoisie, the highly educated and very rich but they did not have advantages in the government. Below this group, were the hard workers known as sans culottes. At the bottom were the peasants, who farmed for the rich and had to give 10 percent of their income to the church, while often forced to do work without pay. Most of these workers were very poor and were hopeless.
Enlightenment Ideas were another cause of the Revolution. These ideas came from highly educated members of the bourgeoisie who used the writing of the great philosophers John Locke, Baron de Montesquieu, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau to inspire the French Revolution. They wanted to make a difference and create change, therefore they needed a revolution.
The final cause of the Revolution was the Financial Cricis, which affected majority of the country. During this crisis France was in a lot of dept, and King Louis XVI did not have strong leadership that was required at the time. Within a year, the country faced bankruptcy. Apart from this, the country was faced with some natural disasters. One was a hailstorm that ruined the harvest, followed by the worst winter France has seen in over 80 years. This caused wide spread hunger, which has cause anger in thousands of French citizens.
reign Of Terror
The Reign of Terror created fear throughout France, and has greatly impacted the Revolution and society. It started with the peasants hatred for the government, and eventually led to the Civil War. The concept of spreading terror throughout the country was started by Robespierre, who wanted to defend the republic from its enemies, even if that meant death for anyone who opposed the revolution.
During this era, anyone who was caught criticizing the Revolution, or was against the Old Order, was in danger of being executed. Some were even accused of being against the Revolution without any evidence and had very little rights and were not aloud to defend themselves. The Reign of Terror had a large amount of victims and executions by the guillotine became almost a casual and normal ritual. No group, gender nor class would be spared, that included women. Eventually the same people who started the Reign of Terror, became victims themselves, an example would be Robespierre himself for suggesting that this rule of Terror didn't have to be so harsh.
This violence throughout France angered many of the French and even foreign countries, and caused nation wide opposition to the Revolution. Even though the Reign of Terror had great intentions to protect the Revolution, it ended up making it worse and made the country weak. The aftermath of this Terror was revolutionary. France had to start a whole new government and created a new constitution with many restrictions on the rights of citizens. Because of this, France had a very weak and corrupt government, so that did not make things any better for the French and they were desperate for change.