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Did you know that a loaf of bread costed a week’s salary for 98% of the population, which mainly included peasants, in France during the French Revolution? The French Revolutions, one of the major Revolutions in all of Europe showing a concept of inequality, started in June 1789, under King Louis XVI’s rule, when revolutionaries stormed a prison called the Bastille. It ended ten years after, with Napoleon Bonaparte’s rule. One of the causes of the French Revolution started due to the social structure. The French people were separated into three social groups, often called the “Estates”.
The First Estate was made up of entire clergy (leaders of the church), who were responsible for the spiritual and moral welfare of the nation, including educating the children. They also owned the land but were not responsible for paying taxes on this land. However, they did send a small amount of money to the government each year as a gift. The Second Estate consisted of nobles, who were born into this prestige.
Despite their wealth, this class paid very little amounts of taxes. The nobles had rights over peasant lands and received priority in getting top jobs in government. The Third Estate consisted of 80% peasants, which made most of the population. People in this Estate varied from the middle class to the poor. Some people could be doctors and lawyers to the homeless. Since the French exempted the clergy and nobles of taxes, the burden was put on peasants. Peasants paid a land tax to the state and a 5% property tax. One of the general causes of the French Revolution was the social structure and the inequalities of the French Revolution, causing a social and political rebellion in France. The cause of this was the American Revolution.
When King Louis XVI became king, France had helped America’s 13 colonies in their struggle for freedom of Britain. France had also wasted money on past wars and the maintenance King’s Court in the palace in the city Versailles, which was made with expensive goods and had about 700 rooms, and about 700 people could live comfortably here. This caused France ending up being financially unstable. So, King Louis VI decided to increase the tax rates for only the Third Estate, to help his financial crisis. Because of this, it was very hard for the Third Estate to live. It was even becoming difficult to buy bread. This is why then the middle class and the philosophers began to stand up. In 1789, the estate general assembly was called to discuss the tax issues. On May 5, the third estate demanded a one man one vote right.
Due to the right not being granted, on June 20th, 1789, all the third estate declared itself a National Assembly at the tennis court. The food prices were also increasing, and so the third estate attacked the Bastille Prison on July 14, 1789. Then King Louis realized that the French society wasn’t going to keep quiet. Even women had started revolting at this point. This has caused King Louis’s situation to be so miserable that he had to leave the palace and go live in Paris. At this point then, the food price and tax situations were over, and all the privileges of the first and second estate were also removed. In 1791, the National Assembly weakened King Louis’s power and divide his powers equally into different institutions. They divide it into the legislative, executive, and judicative branch. Franch had started becoming a constitutional monarchy from a monarchy.
In the French Society, men had also started getting back basic human rights, such as right before life, freedom of speech, and equality before the law. In 1792, France had started to take the aid of political clubs. They were held for people who wanted to discuss government issues and wanted to plan forms of action. The most famous club was called the Jacobin Club and was lead by Maximilian Robespierre. On August 10, 1792, the Jacobin Club got together and attacked King Louis’s palace, and held him hostage. On September 21st of 1792, France became completely free of the monarch system and established a republic society. Later then in 1793, King Louis XVI got killed, and France was led by Maximilian Robespierre, a very strict dictator. Anyone who opposed him immediately got harshly punished. Because of his rule, France had some bad outcomes and led people to revolt against him as well.
In 1794, Maximilian Robespierre got killed from the guillotine, just like King Louis XVI. Now, the Jacobin power was abolished, and the rich began to get power again. A new constitution was made. Due to the constitution 2 legislative councils and a directory, with 5 men was also made. Soon after, the directory and the legislative council started having fights. Napoleon Bonaparte, a military officer, took advantage of these fights. Slowly making his way up, Napoleon Bonaparte finally ruled France in 1804. Bonaparte followed a strategic plan after he became the ruler of France. First, he conquered France’s neighboring countries and made his family members rule those lands. In 1815, Bonaparte lost the battle of Waterloo. His army had a crushing defeat, so he stepped down from his throne. He was exiled to the remote island of Saint Helena, where he died at 51, due to stomach cancer. The French Revolution was caused by social, political and economic problems and left a huge impact on France. Since France spent more than it made, the third class was suppressed with taxes while the first and second class laid back. However, in the end, the result favored the Third Estate, and their problems, regarding inequality, were solved and had an official end in 1789, ending with Napoleon Banopartes’s rule.
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