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French Revolution

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The French Revolution

On the morning of July 13, 1789 church bell rang throughout France signaling there was danger. Mobs decorated in red and blue flooded the streets of France in search of any kind of weapon in which they can defend themselves with. One day later the mob surrounded the Bastille, an old and well-known prison. The mob surged forward and attacked the Bastille, breaking through the inner courtyard. Cannons and bullets flew through the air taking down anyone it came in contact with. Knowing there was no way out De Launey, the man in charge at the Bastille, surrendered. The drawbridge was lowered and the mob surged in taking anything they could get there hands on. This day would go down infamy. It not only is the day that the French celebrate their independence, it is also the day the French revolution began. The French Revolution was a controversial event that completely changed France. There are many speculations on what caused the French Revolution. These reasons fall under three categories, Political, Social, and Economical. I will be elaborating on all three of these reasons throughout the course of the paper. The main cause for the French revolution was the power clash between the powerful; rising bourgeoisie or the middle-class and the well-established aristocracy defending it's privileges. The French revolution was provoked by the collision of powers, the financial debt of the government and the long-standing political differences in the government. After the Seven Years War and the American Revolution France was put into extreme financial debt, furthermore; the lavish tastes of Marie Antoinette and the aristocracy before her further added to the debt. Additionally the fact that the people mainly the commoners of France were starving and had no money due to the ever-increasing population is another factor that cause the French Revolution.

At a first glance France was seen as one of the foremost nations of the world. It had a powerful army and navy, colonies in various parts of the world, it was leader in science and art, and a generally regarded stable, intelligent, highly civilized country. However, if you took a closer look you would see that France had many problems. Economic turmoil was everywhere, and the nation was based on the unstable system of feudalism that was way outdated. First off France was sharply divided by three classes or estates. The first class or estate was known as the clergy or members of the Catholic order. To have any legal rights at all in this nation you had to be catholic. The Clergy saw themselves as the keepers of public welfare. They ran the schools, hospitals, and shelters for the poor; however, there was a dark side the Catholic Church as well. They were known for their cruelty against nonbelievers and heretics. They used means of torture to make you confess, this in turn lead to enlightenment writers ferociously criticizing the Catholic Church. The second estate was the aristocracy and the nobility. These people were considered the socially elite of France. Finally the third estate consisted of basically everyone else from the Middle Class or Bourgeoise's to the filthy beggars living on the street. These people were known as the commoners. They made up almost all of the population in France and at the time of the revolution their population was icreasing more and more everyday. These people were described by a traveler before the revolution as ": The mules of French society." The major class distinctions as described her foreshadow the upcoming terror the French society would soon face.

Economic Turmoil was everywhere you looked in France during this time. It can be traced all the way back to the reign of Louis XIV. Louis took it upon himself to build the magnificent castle of Versailles. He hired the top artists, architects, sculptors, etc. to design and furnish his wonderful estate. It consisted of extravagant sculptures, a hall of mirrors, winding gardens, and magnificent architecture of gold and silver. The building of this extraordinary castle put the country into major debt, which they would not come out of until the revolution began. This just one example of the lavish spending by the royalty the sent the French economy spiraling out of control. Marie Antoinette for example was a young Queen being married at the age of fourteen and crowned at the age of fifteen. Being so young caused her to make some very unintelligent decisions. Marie spent most of her early years as queen partying and increasing the debt of the French. She and her friends loved to gamble and would gamble away millions of dollars that the French did not even have. She also developed a passion for diamonds and went into debt to buy millions of francs worth of these "trifles." This known passion for diamonds would come back to haunt Marie in the infamous "Diamond Necklace Affair." A woman named Jeanne de Lamotte Valois was the prime cause of the Diamond Necklace Affair. Lamotte wanted to be part of the inner circle of the queen, because she felt that she had the right since she was born into a lower class family, so she scammed one of Antoinette's ex friends the cardinal de Rohan into buying a very expensive diamond necklace that was originally intended for Louis XV mistress Madame Du Berry. Lamotte had told Rohan that Antoinette wanted him to buy the necklace for her so the people of France wouldn't know she bought it. Wanting to be back on her good side Rohan agreed thinking the Queen would pay him back, however this would not be the case. Since the Queen did not arrange for Rohan to buy the necklace Rohan never saw any money for it. This led to a huge trial in which Lamotte was found guilty; however, Marie Antoinette's reputation was ruined forever. This event led to the vicious rumors that would lead her to be the most hate queen of France. Additionally, she became a frequent trendsetter when it came to fashion. It was said that her dress designer would design and sometimes make her up to two hundred different outfits a year. Sometimes these outfits were so extravagant that they were embroidered with gold and pearls, and were made out of the finest fabrics imaginable. Additionally, her and her friends became obsessed with their hair and participated in contests with each other to see who could have the tallest most extravagant hair on their head. Sometimes these wigs could cost millions of dollars and be so tall that the ladies could barely even fit into their carriages. Due to the lavish spending and the poor judgment of the aristocracy the French society was put into economic turmoil that lead to even more unjust taxation for commoners.

France had no written constitution and their legal system was a tangled



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