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Reasons of French Revolution

1) Economic Crisis: French the second half of eighteenth century, France started from suffering
from economic crisis which finally turn into financial bankruptcy of state during the time of Louis
16. The important reasons for this crisis bankruptcy were
(a) National income in disorder: the primary sector in France especially agriculture was the victim of
feudalism. Because of the agricultural land of France was under the control of Small section of
landlords creating a slow pace because France lack resources like coal and iron and was busy in
struggle with Britain for the conquest of colonies. The weakness in primary and secondary sector
led to a weak tertiary sector or service sector creating the big trouble.
In s situation when the national income is in disorder in France, the unpragmatic polices of rulers
deteorated the condition in France.
Louis 14 was a absolute despot and he declared I am the state, He fought continuous wars with
the neighbors which created economic crisis in France. He was succeeded by Louis 15 who was
matured and far sighted ruler. He not only continued the aggressive policy and fought seven year
war with Britain. He involved himself in luxury and enjoyment as he himself said he wont be able
to solve the problem of France. He also said after me the end of m dynasty. He was succeeded
by Louis 16 and by that time France was in critical condition because

National income in completed disorder

Unemployment a big challenge for state

State suffering a huge debt of two billion livers paying 10% interest on it.

In such circumstances instead of improving the economy of nation, he sends military assistance
to America and this became the cause of financial bankruptcy of France which became the real
cause for the beginning of troubles in France.
2) Whenever the nation will suffer from economic crisis, the natural outcome will be political and
social crisis. Under political crisis the trouble was weak administration, absence of law & order but
the
3) Social crisis in France especially the concept of privilege classes was a great frustration for the
people.
Now there were three sections in society
1) Clergy
2) Nobles
3) Common man (having no privilege but all responsibility all tax of state taken from these)
But in Britain, taxpaying society was having privilege. As taxpaying section had no privileges so it
became a great frustration for common people in France.

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4) In this way economy, polity, society in France was facing multiple problems and once again
intellectuals in France played important role of awakening the people in France. Here the
important personalities were
1) Voltaire
2) Montesquieu
3) Roussau
4) Didronet
According to Voltaire, creativity is the biggest force in world. He says That Newton and Gallilio
have more important place in comparison to Alexander and Caesar. He proposes to the rulers of
Europe to promote creativity which in turn will give promotion to growth and development. For the
promotion of creativity he emphasized on freedom of expression.
Montesquieu says that Monarchy is based on the principle of despotism which generally harms
the interest of people. According to him a responsible government can promote the welfare of
people and this e emphasize on the principle of S O P
Rousseau- in his famous book social contract says the kingship is not the gift of god to a
person. It is basically the contract between the ruler and rulers and the most important duty of the
ruler is to respect the will of the people. This can only be achieved by giving liberty, equality and
fraternity to the people.
Didronet- Didronet prepared the encyclopedia of problems faced by France in which he also provided
solution to these problems. For example, according to him religion is a personal affaire of a
individual, so religion has no right to interfere in the affairs of state.
Therefore French philosophers provided the basis principles of modern political system which not
only inspired us but it also became the parameter for modern political system for entire world.
5) IMMEDIATE CAUSE: Mistake of Louis 16 and fall of Bastille
PHASES:
1) Political deadlock to Estate General
2) Estate General to fall of Bastille
3) Fall of Bastille to National Convention
4) National Convention to rise of Napoleon
FIRST PHASE: political deadlock in
Louis 16 committed the mistake of sending military assistance to Americans which created financial
bankruptcy for France as he tried to impose new taxes on people, people stood up demanding
political reforms from the rulers. Louis 16 was clear that if he listens to the choice of people, that
will lead to the royal power and prestige as it happen in Britain, so he neglected the demand of
people creating the political deadlock if France. He took two steps to overcome the crisis

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1) Appoint Turgot as his finance minister to provide solution for the trouble and Turgot made big
claims example no new taxes, no more loans, no financial bankruptcy so Louis 16 shocked. If
king follows the following proposal

Reforms in agriculture and Trade & commerce


Tax on nobility + reduction in expenditure of state & state house holds

Turgot paid the Price for his dearness and was immediately dismissed.
Louis 16 took the second step- Invitation to Lantobill organization of aristocracy but aristocracy out
ridely refuse to share the burden of state and king.
With the end of these two steps Louis 16 had only one option i.e. to use force against the people as
he opted for this, riots started in different parts of France with people started demanding invitation
of estates General.
Second phase:- Louse 16 was not in condition to take any against fighting people and compelled by
his situation, he invited Estates General with how own hidden agenda
Estates General is General Assembly of France. It had three groups
1) States (clergy/ priestly)
2) Nobles
3) Common people
The voting pattern was based on Majority of groups and as the interest of clergy and Noble were
common so they used to generally unite which was against the interest of common man.
The invitation of Estates General instead of giving solution to Louis 16 increased the troubles of Louis
16 because of the following reasons.
a) Large number of common people started moving towards Paris to participate in Estate General.
b) The third state made the demand of change in voting pattern i.e. one person one vote.
Here Louis 16 committed the mistake of closing down the assembly hall and the common people in
reaction to this gathered in front of assembly hall in Tennis lawn and declared themselves as
National Representatives. So the important outcome of invitation to Estates General was
formation of National Assembly in France which aspires to prepare the new constitution for
France. In this situation the two steps of Louis 16 proved disastrous for him.
i)

Dismissal of Neckar (the advisor of King and sympathizer of common man as he made the
proposal of one person, one vote)

ii) Louis 16 started gathering troops in ParisBoth the steps were the message to common people that the king is in the mood of suppressing the
mood of common people. In reaction to this on 14th July 1789, people attacked the fort of Bastille
which proved to be the beginning of French Revolution.
Third phase:- fall of Bastillee to National Assembly:Page 3 of 6

Bastillee was a fort cum prison and people raided this fort with two intentions under the Leadership of
Camille Dishmoulins with two intentions.

To release political prisoners

To collect arms and ammunition for giving resistance to royal troops. This led to the fall of this fort
which was considered as the beginning of French Revolution because of following reasons.

a) DIRECT ACTION: it was not simply the fall of the fort, it was the beginning of directs action
against feudalism in France. As the news of the fall of Bastillee reached different parts of France,
people stood up against feudal order in which their main target was Manors of feudal lords.
b) FORMATION OF NATIONAL GUARDS: the gathering of troops by Louis 16 in Paris alarm the
people and 7000 man and women forms peoples militia to fight against the oppression of the
king. This turned into national guards under the command of Lafayatte. In this way army came
under the command of National Assembly and turned it into a power center in France.
c) With the invitation of Estate General, Paris was under the control of common people and with the
fall of Bastille, the people in Paris formed Municipal corporations to manage the city. This was the
beginning of modern administration system in France.
d) Fall of Bastille proved to the victory of common people against aristocracy and autocracy,
therefore 14th July 1789 proved to a turning point in French history and as National Assembly
became the power center so its next important contribution was constitution of 1789 whose
important feature were

Constitutional Monarchy

Law of clergy human and civil rights declaration

Economic philosophy of nation

Under constitutional monarchy the important developments were


i)

King became the nominal head of state having the right to appoint his officers and ministers and
also having the right of their transfer from one place to another

ii) The legislative assembly having 745 members became the power centre in France with the right
to take all crucial decisions.
iii) The voting pattern of this legislative assembly was through indirect elections in which the citizens
were divided into two groups- active and passive. Active or Tax section were to form Electoral
College and Electoral College was to elect the members of Legislative Assembly.
Under Law of clergy religion was subordinated to the state which had following features.
i)

Priests were to be appointed and paid by the state.

ii) Pope became the nominal religious head of state and was asked to take the oath to the loyalty to
the state.

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In this way France moved towards secularism. The important aspect constitution was human and civil
rights declaration which included freedom of expression, freedom of speech, judicial rights etc.
Under economy- France opted for Mixed economy. The new government also introduced new
currency assignates and also started nationalization of land which was generally confiscated by
church/Pope. Therefore the constitution of 1789 was ideal in Nature but it was not suitable to
France of 1790 which was still backward, weak and feudal in nature, therefore this constitution
instead of giving smoothness to revolution, created conflict.
The constitution of 1791 was ideal in nature but it had certain defects eg. King and nobility were dissatisfied because of immediate loss of power.
Subordination of religion was not acceptable to the orthodox catholic population of France.
Human and civil rights prove to be only declaration as in spite of equality to the people, there was no
universal franchise and women education was disliked by feudal sentiment.
Mixed economy was a good option but nationalization of land did not give any relief to landless
laborers. This dissatisfaction created confusion and conflict in France and in these two incidents
change the situation in France.
First incidence: Louis 16 tried to escape from France because of this monarchy lost moral status to
be head of the state and he was the signing authority of constitution of 1791, so constitution
became invalid.
Second incidence: Pilnitz declaration- in which European nations under

the leadership of Austria

declared war against France. The declared agenda was to save Royal but the Hidden agenda to
crush National assembly. In this situation National Assembly as the head of state organized
national Convention.
Fifth Phase; National Assembly to National Convention
National convention was facing following challenges
i)

What should the fate of the king

ii) How to deal with internal crisis


iii) How to handle foreign invasion
iv) What should be the format of new constitution and this led to the coming of the constitution 1792
Constitutional republic
Religion of reason
Human and civil rights were maintained
Communism
Constitutional Republic: the constitution of 1972 emphases on constitutional republic and under it the
new developments were

First development directory which had five members, each member had tenure of one year and
every member was given the post of first council for three months.
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Second development: provision of two houses- upper and lower House in which proposals were
made in upper house but it can be only passed by Lower House.

Religion of Reason: under it, France became a secular state because religion was declared as a
personal affair of individual. In this way religion lost all the support of state.
Human and Civil Rights maintained but restrictions were imposed on women education and
participation of women in political activity. State also started interfering in personal life of citizen
eg dress code for citizens
Mixed Economy emphasis on communism as maximum selling was imposed on wages and
prices, Rationing of meat and bread and capitalists were declared as criminals.
The new constitution once again failed to satisfy various sections in France eg
i)

Women were irritated by the loss of political and education rights

ii)

Rift between the capitalist class and labor class.

iii) The orthodox section were annoyed because of the treatment of the state towards religion
iv) The parliament was suffering from internal crisis
In this situation of confusion and conflict, National Convection was divided into a number of groups eg
Girondists (i.e. liberals), jacobians (Radicals) etc. and all these groups started fighting among
themselves to set up their own line of order, In such circumstance France saw the emergence of
cold blooded Jacobian leader Maximum Robospiers, He established rain to terror in France
(1793-94). The important developments of this period were
a)

Promotion to communism

b)

Suppresion of women rights

c)

Abortion of slavery on humanitarian grounds

d)

Elimination of all rivals and critics by sending them to Guillotence and important victim of all this
wasJohn Paul Marat (a famous journalist)
Olyma de Goughs
Camille Dishmoulins (leader of Bastille episode) etc.

In this way, the rain of terror created complete confusion and intellectual void in France. The outcome
of this situation was Napoleon.

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