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During the summer of 1789, France faced a financial crisis, caused primarily by military expenditures and a parasitic aristocracy, which resisted any cuts in its returns from the treasury and any taxes on its wealth. Louis XVI had succeeded his grandfather in 1774. The young king was intelligent but indolent and dominated by his frivolous wife, Marie Antoinette, whose limited political vision and influence over her husband increased his problems. The result of this lapse of leadership was a political near-breakdown, followed by a sudden explosion of popular unrest and agitation. Between Louis' succession and 1789, his finance ministers continuously struggled with a rapidly rising debt. It had increased by 400 million…show more content…
Taxes were to be levied only by common consent. With its emphases upon civil equality and property rights, the declaration was a typical middle-class statement. ^4 The Assembly's land policies conditioned its approach to organized religion. Having taken church property and eliminated tithes, many members were reluctant to abolish the state church completely, believing the church, if controlled, would help to defend property. Consequently, the Assembly passed the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, which made the clergy salaried public servants but abolished all archbishoprics and reduced the number of bishoprics. Monastic orders were simply dissolved. Incumbent churchmen were required to swear first loyalty to the nation, but only seven bishops and half the clergy conformed. The remainder became bitterly hostile to the government, exerting great influence, particularly among the peasants. After two years of controversy, the Assembly produced the Constitution of 1791, which made France a limited monarchy. It assigned the lawmaking function to a single-chambered Legislative Assembly, which was to meet every two years. The king could select ministers and temporarily veto laws but could not dismiss the legislature. The Constitution also created an independent and elected judiciary. Local government was completely reorganized on three
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