Total Questions :37

The circumstances leading to the outbreak of revolutionary protest in France were:

→ Social Inequality: French society in the eighteenth century was divided into three estates namely The Clergy, The nobility and third estates which comprise peasants, officials and small business. It was only third estates that pay taxes. Clergy and nobility were exempt from taxes.

→ Subsistence Crisis: The population of France also increased from 23 million in 1715 to 28 million in 1789. Food grains were now in great demand. Price of bread shot up. Wages did not keep pace with rising prices. This led to subsistence crisis.

→ Economic Problems: Long years of war had drained the financial resources of France. France had a debt of more than 2 billion livres. To meet its regular expenses, such as the cost of maintaining an army, the court, running government offices or universities, the state was forced to increase taxes.

→ Strong Middle Class: The middle class emerged educated and wealthy during the eighteenth century. They believed that no group in society should be given privileges by birth. Ideas of equality and freedom were put forward by philosophers. The ideas of these philosophers were discussed intensively in salons and coffee houses and spread among people.

→ Immediate Causes: On 5 may, 1789, Louis XVI called together an assembly of Estates General to pass proposals for new taxes. Third estates protested against this proposal but as each estate have one vote, the king rejected this appeal. They walked out of the assembly.