what led up to the revolution
The French Revolution began in 1789 and ended in the late 1790s with the ascent of Napoleon Bonaparte.While this event was happening French citizens razed and redesigned their country’s political landscape, uprooting centuries-old institutions such as absolute monarchy and the feudal system.The French Revolution was influenced by Enlightenment ideals, particularly the concepts of popular sovereignty and inalienable rights.The lords were then supposed to turn over part of these taxes to the King, but they often kept the biggest part for themselves.The King was a fervent supporter of the American War of Independence and decided to help pro-independence fighters by sending them a tremendous amount of resources.
As the 18th century drew to a close, France’s costly involvement in the American Revolution and extravagant spending by King Louis XVI (1754-1793) and his predecessor had left the country on the brink of bankruptcy.Many expressed their desperation and resentment toward a regime that imposed heavy taxes yet failed to provide relief by rioting, looting and striking.Not only were the royal coffers depleted, but two decades of poor cereal harvests, drought, cattle disease and skyrocketing bread prices had kindled unrest among peasants and the urban poor.In the fall of 1786, Louis XVI’s controller general, Charles Alexandre de Calonne (1734-1802), proposed a financial reform package that included a universal land tax from which the privileged classes would no longer be exempt.
France’s population had changed considerably since 1614. The non-aristocratic members of the Third Estate now represented 98 percent of the people but could still be outvoted by the other two bodies.In the lead-up to the May 5 meeting, the Third Estate began to mobilize support for equal representation and the abolishment of the noble veto–in other words, they wanted voting by head and not by status.By the time the Estates-General convened at Versailles, the highly public debate over its voting process had erupted into hostility between the three orders, eclipsing the original purpose of the meeting and the authority of the man who had convened it.