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French Revolution: Causes / Reasons

We will deal with the causes or reasons of the French Revolution in this article. We will first look at a brief summary of the most important causes. These are then discussed in more detail again. This article belongs to our History section.

Why did the French Revolution come about? This is exactly what we want to look at in the next few sections. Let's start with a brief compilation of the main Points that we will look at in detail below.

Short form: French Revolution causes / reasons:

  • The king, the nobility and the representatives of the Church lived in luxury, while the common people were very poor and had to work hard for the rich.
  • The king wasted the money of the state on his luxury life and expensive wars, which (partly) led to the bank failure of the state.
  • The poor population - the majority of the people - had no political say and was exploited by the laws of the "rich".
  • Criticism of the church and its privileges increased, the allegedly "God-given" image of society was increasingly questioned.
  • There was also a famine: food prices rose due to a poor harvest. An empty stomach always drives people into protest and revolution.

These were the most important points about the causes of the French Revolution, in short. In the next section we will now take a detailed look at the individual points.

Are you preparing for an exam? Do you want to test your knowledge of the French Revolution? Then you should take a look at our tasks or exercises on this topic.

Political and economic causes / occasion

In this section we take a detailed look at the causes and the cause of the French Revolution. We start with the economic and political reasons:

  • King's lifestyle: The French Revolution took place during the reign of Louis XVI. From today's perspective, one would say that he "had a good time". He lived in a magnificent courtyard with parties and tournaments. An expensive lifestyle that was financed by government revenue and that drove the French state towards bankruptcy.
  • military: The French state afforded a large army. The military involvement in the Seven Years' War and the American Revolutionary War in support of the English colonies also consumed a lot of money.
  • Tax system: The tax system was designed in such a way that the poor layers were completely exempted. The so-called third estate (civil servants, workers and farmers) was completely squeezed out financially. The 1st class (clergy / clergy, i.e. people who belonged to the church) and the 2nd class (nobility) benefited from it.
  • hunger: The population grew, more people had to be fed. But just as this became necessary, the harvest failed. Food prices rose, people were hungry and continued to become impoverished. As a result, hatred of the king and wealthy people who were unwilling to implement appropriate reforms grew.
  • No participation: The simple population - and that was most of the people - hardly had a say in politics.
  • No climb: Those who were born into the nobility usually stayed in the nobility. And those who were born in poor conditions usually stayed there too. There was hardly any way to escape his innate "fate". A promotion to a higher class ranged between extremely difficult and impossible for the individual. Politics also did not create any opportunities for this to change.

Social causes of the French Revolution

This section deals with the social causes of the French Revolution. These are of course related to the political and economic reasons, but should still be treated separately here:

  • religion: The ecclesiastical / Christian worldview was questioned. The strict religiosity decreased or the belief in God became weaker. This also undermined the authority of the clergy and their authority.
  • education: The level of education rose. More and more people learned to read and were therefore able to read spiritual and worldly content themselves and began to discuss them. This, too, undermined the authority of the rich and powerful as well as the Church.
  • Privileges: The financial gap between the small part of the rich in society and the many poor was increasingly discussed.

So much for the main causes of the French Revolution. One could certainly name numerous other, smaller points that also had an influence. However, this would drag the article out even more and obscure the key points.


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