FRENCH REVOLUTION summary

French Revolution causes and facts

This was a period that involved radical social and political upheaval in France from 1789 to 1799. This 10 year upheaval affected the French and modern history leading to the rise of democracy and nationalism.

Globally, the Revolution accelerated the rise of republics and democracies, the spread of liberalism, nationalism, socialism and secularism.

Different people give different opinions about the causes of the Revolution. The main reasons may however be the poor harvests, unhealthy state of the economy, rising food prices and an inefficient tax system.

The state was nearing bankruptcy due to France’s financial obligations from involvement in the Seven Years’ War and its participation in the American Revolutionary War.

The church was not spared either since they owned about 10% of the state’s land and did not pay taxes. The Roman Catholic Church levied a tithe often collected in the form of crops. The wealth of the church was highly resented by the people leading to the church and clergy losing special privileges.

On the night of 4th August 1789, the National Constituent Assembly abolished feudalism. It adopted the equality of taxation, adoption of all into public office and freedom of worship among others.

The period also saw the rise of the political parties in French politics. The parties were regarded as “clubs”. The Assembly abolished all internal trade barriers, put in place the right for anyone to carry out business through the purchase of a license and made strikes illegal.

At the time, the legislature had abolished all hereditary offices except for the monarchy itself.

The Revolution may have benefitted the citizens in one ways or the other but the number of lives lost can never be replaced. This remains a vivid memory in all minds of those present during the revolution.