French Revolution was one of the greatest revolutions of all time. This revolution stands as an evidence of common people’s power. The commoners not only overthrew their King Louis XVI but also beheaded him and his wife, Marie-Antoinette. You think people were cruel to behead their King and queen? Read the facts to know what they had to endure before they took this step.
French Revolution Facts: 1-5
1. The French Revolution or the “Revolution of 1789” started in the year 1789. The revolution ended in 1799. It is during this revolution that Napoleon Bonaparte rose to fame and power. This revolution goes by the other name, that is “Revolution of 1789” because, after this, two other revolutions took place – one in 1830 and then another one in 1848.
2. Of the several reasons that led to the French Revolution of 1789, one of the reasons was that of France’s involvement is American Revolution was turning out to be very costly for France. In case you didn’t know, France was an arch rival of British and hence, the were helping in American Revolution.
3. While that was the primary reason, there were other reasons as well. Those reasons that led to French Revolution of 1789 are mentioned below:
- France almost became bankrupt because King Louis XVI and those who ascended the throne before him were involved in lavish spending at the cost of commoners’ taxes.
- While the Kings were busy with lavish spending, common people (especially urban poor and peasants had to face several problems like:
- Poor harvest.
- Cattle disease.
- Poor harvest of cereals.
- Ever-increasing bread prices.
- Age-old monarchy and blood-sucking feudalism.
- The absence of bourgeois class (common people such as professionals, merchants and manufacturers, farmers and others) from political platform.
- Excessive population – France had 26 million people in 1789.
4. To top all these, taxes were extremely high and was imposed only on common people (Third estate – we will come to this shortly) and the government was doing nothing to improve their conditions. There was looting, rioting and striking all around. It was complete unrest everywhere in France.
5. Talking of estates, there were 3 estates in France. The First estate included clergymen, this was again divided into upper and lower clergy. Lower clergy’s population was 90% in the first estate.
French Revolution Facts: 6-10
6. The Second estate included royalty excluding the King and yet again, even this was divided into Noblesse de robe (“nobility of the robe”), the magisterial class that administered royal justice and civil government and Noblesse d’épée (“nobility of the sword”).
7. The above two estates were exempted from paying taxes and it was the third estate which had to pay all the taxes and had no recognition for themselves.
8. The third estate included the people who were not included in the above two estates. The Third estate made up 98% of French population when the French Revolution broke out.
9. So, in 1786 a controller general of Louis XVI brought a proposal regarding taxes. According to that, the first two estates would lose the privilege of tax exemption and would lessen the burden on the third estate.
10. Louis XVI then summoned for “les états généraux” (Estates-General), which was an assembly of all the estates with representations from middle class, nobility and clergy.