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Trouble began to arise in England and France when the monarchs decided to solidify central control (absolutism) and increase the taxes to afford their lifestyle (in France) and war (in both countries).
The English king, Charles’ I political difficulties originated from his desire to be an absolute monarch and being viewed as a sympathizer of the Roman Catholic. The former was shown repeatedly, as he didn’t call into session the Parliament from 1629 until 1640; this period is also known as the Personal Rule. Right after calling the Short Parliament in April of 1640, he didn’t want to listen anything they had to say, however, he was forced to listen when the Long Parliament opened in November of that same year. They immediately began passing bills against Charles’ Personal Rule, one being the Triennial Act (1641), in which they declared that Parliament had to be called at least once every three years. The detonating factor to this rocky relationship occurred in January of 1642 when Charles attempted to arrest five members of Parliament who were significant figures of the opposition. With this, he violated parliamentary sovereignty. The former was at the beginning of his reign. He offended the people by marrying a French Catholic princess in a predominantly protestant country. In terms of economy, Charles I discovered that relying on the House of Commons for grants and taxes often times made relations between the monarchy and Parliament difficult. Despite being granted tonnage and poundage for only a year by Parliament (1625), Charles continued collecting these taxes against approval. This only reaffirmed the belief that Charles was a potential absolutist. During his Personal Rule (1629-1640), he revived old taxes. These included distraint of knighthood, enforcing the ancient boundaries of royal forests, collecting ship money and using the Court of the Star Chamber to raise money by collecting fees and fines. During this time period, his minister Thomas Wentworth implemented the unpopular policy of Thorough (collect money owed to the crown in order to strengthen it). Charles’ need for money to finance an army against the Scots following the First Bishops’ War (1638) is what made him call the Short Parliament in 1640. When the Second Bishops War ended, the agreement was that the English would pay the Scots a large sum, in order to get this money, he had to call Parliament again. Eventually, it was the members of the Long Parliament those in charge of leading the rebellion against the king.
Political problems originated in France when Louis XVI, the less than impressive and prepared ruler came to power in 1774. He was facing increasing resistance from the local parlements, as an answer to this, Louis XV’s chancellor, Ren? Nicolas de Maupeou, began to abolish them. However, this was considered an unpopular actions as it looked like replacing local control with central control. Desperate to be popular, Louis XVI dismissed Maupeou and recalled the parlements (1774). This allowed the parlements to see how fragile their power was, which explains their later resistance to the king. Under Louis XVI’s control the parlements became resistant to royal decrees, specifically new taxes. During this time period, there were riots and calls for the Estate General. At the time, they realized that when voting by Estates, the First (clergy) and Second Estate (nobles) would combine to outvote the Third Estate (commoners), creating an inequality. One main issue France was having at the time was the gap between taxation. The clergy paid no taxes, but rather gave a yearly “gift”, the nobles paid few taxes, the commoners had to pay more than they could afford and tax collector were corrupt and inefficient. France also had a large debt originated from helping United States in the American Revolution. To top it off, they experienced bad weather, damaged harvests and rising food prices, leading to the unrest among the peasants. Despite the terrible conditions the peasant were undergoing, the nobles and king continued to have a lavish lifestyle with no budget. Louis XVI had multiple finance minister, but it was Jacques Necker who proposed financial reforms. However, the parlements and the Assembly of Notables opposed these reforms. Facing revolt from the privileged, Louis XVI was forced to call the Estates General. All this actions are what caused the Tennis Court Oath, Storming of the Bastille and eventually the French Revolution.
In conclusion, while growing religious tensions and increasing differences between the monarch and Parliament drove the English to the civil war, the abundant spending from the monarchs and rising taxes led to the French Revolution, which was a turning moment in history.
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