The Relationship between the French Revolution and Economic Depression

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The Relationship between the French Revolution and Economic Depression

In June 1789 the French revolution had begun. For the next five years there would be bloodshed throughout France, the country was going through a radical change, the change in sovereignty and the failure of the constitutional monarchy being two examples of this. But to what extent was all this caused by economic distress? Before being able to answer the question, one would have to establish the definition of 'economic distress' it could be defined as the misery people (especially the peasantry) faced due to low income and tax inflation or the misery that the entire country was in due to the enormous debts, which had accumulated due to the wars, which were fought.
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In Pre-revolutionary France there were three estates - the first estate (clergy), the second estate (nobles) and the third estate (bourgeoisie, peasantry and urban workers). Most of the clergy came from noble backgrounds, as it was usual for the youngest sons of wealthy families to join the church in order to share its wealth. The church's wealth came from tithes (a proportion or the each year's crop paid to the church by landowners) and the vast amount of land that it owned. They clergy were exempt from taxes; instead they negotiated a don gratuit with the king. The don gratuit was an annual payment to the crown and was always much less than what would have to be paid in normal taxation. The church had a great deal of power too as the state religion was Catholicism, it was their duty to spread to ideas of divine right. The second estate was by far, the wealthiest and most powerful. They were exempt from paying direct taxes (until the 1749 vingtieme when they still paid less than they would have done if they were from the third estate) and doing military service such as the corvee (forced labour on roads) and made their money through the land they owned (between 15% and 25% of all land in France). They also receives seigneural (feudal) dues which were fees that the peasants were obligated to pay in
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