Origins of the French Revolution

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ORIGINS OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION The causes of the French Revolution of 1787-1789 (Solé 3) is a subject worthy of investigation because the revolt is an event of crucial importance in Western History. It marked the end of feudalism and the beginning of democracy in France, and can be seen as a turning point for liberty in Europe. To quote the German author Goethe, ‘From this place, and from this day, commences a new era in the world’s history’ (Wright 2). In 1774 when Louis XVI ascended the French throne, he had the potential, if he exerted strength, to rule absolutely over France (Hampson 24), a powerful European nation. Less than twenty years later his monarchy had been replaced by a revolutionary government (Rudé 34), and…show more content…
(Hampson 31). Calonne did not expect his proposals to be taken well by the aristocracy. This was because, by the second half of the eighteenth century, the group had come to seriously disdain the monarchy. There were two main reasons for this. The nobility was resentful of King Louis XVI because of the administrative centralization that had been enforced by his Bourbon predecessors (‘House of Bourbon” par 1). Louis XIV, the ‘Sun King’, in particular had been a fervent absolutist. He had limited the influence of his ministers (Fox 137) and had reduced lesser nobles from positions of power to mere adornments of the Court (Goyau “Louis XIV” par 2). The attitude pervading from this epoch was that the monarchy could ‘impose laws generally on all subjects, regardless of their consent’ (Fox 133). The aristocracy was very bitter about this. The nobility had also lost all respect for the royal family by the later eighteenth century, and did not see them as having the moral fortitude to rule over France. Although Louis XVI himself had cultivated a bad reputation through his antisocial, gluttenous behavior (Lefebvre 25), his wife, Marie Antoinette, was the real problem. She was demonized for her extreme spending habits, her inability to bear a male heir, (Asquith 70) and for supposedly using her influence over
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