The causes and consequences of the French Revolution They reflect the convulsive society of the time. Among the main causes is economic instability, and one of the most important consequences was the recognition of human rights.
The French Revolution began in 1789 with the Taking of the Bastille. During the 10 years that followed the French government went into crisis, its king was executed and groups of revolutionaries fought for power.
To understand the causes of the French Revolution it is necessary to understand how France worked. It was a monarchy ruled by a king, who had total power over the government and its people.
The French were divided into different social classes: the clergy, the nobles and the plebeians. The plebeians were exploited and did not have the privileges of the higher classes.
In 1789 the government entered into an economic and political crisis. The famine, united with a weak king and the ideas of Enlightenment, made the revolution begin.
As a consequence, the first Constitution was created and the Democratic Republic was born. Additionally, revolutionary ideas spread to America.
The 5 main causes of the French Revolution
1- Economic instability
The economic condition of France was poor due to the wars of previous rulers, such as Louis XIV and Louis XV.
Additionally, during the reign of Louis XVI the royal treasury was emptied due to the extravagant expenses of Queen Marie Antoinette.
To improve his condition, Louis XVI hired several finance ministers who tried to improve the situation, but all failed.
Finally he pointed to Charles de Calonne as finance minister in 1783, who adopted the loan policy to meet the expenses of the royal court.
But due to this policy, France's national debt increased from 300,000,000 francs to 600,000,000 in just three years.
For that reason Calonne proposed imposing a tax on all classes of society, which was rejected by the king.
In this situation, the king called a kind of general assembly that only brought more economic instability and that was one of the important causes of the French Revolution.
2- The ideas of Enlightenment
For hundreds of years people in France had blindly followed the king and accepted his lowest position in society.
However, during the 1700s the culture began to change; the idea of a society based on reason and not on traditions was promoted.
The Age of Enlightenment presented new ideas such as freedom and equality. The bourgeoisie of the nobility began to question the whole system, also inspired by the American Revolution.
These new ideas began to expand among the educated classes and it was concluded that a revolution was needed to apply the ideas of Voltaire, Rousseau and Montesquieu.
3- Famine among the population
The shortage of food, especially after the agrarian crisis of 1788 and 1789, generated a popular discontent: the plebeians mainly ate bread to survive.
France was experiencing a great famine at that time. Due to the deregulation of the grain market, the cost of bread increased and people were hungry and desperate. This caused the masses to revolt and create riots.
4- Loss of power of the king
King Louis XVI had been losing power within the government. He was a weak king who did not realize the seriousness of the situation in which the plebeians were.
The upper class formed a national assembly to force the king to make reforms, but in the end the king did not comply.
So not only was the king in conflict with the plebeians, but he could not agree with the nobles to carry out reforms.
5- Fight between classes
A part of the clergy (the high clergy) exploited the plebeians in various ways while living a life full of luxury and extravagance compared to the misery of the third class.
That's why ordinary people felt contempt towards them. And on the other hand, the nobles also paid no attention to the needs of the commoners.
But the bourgeois (lawyers, doctors, writers, entrepreneurs, among others) were an emerging and educated social class with more status and money than the commoners; previously they had belonged to the third class of ordinary people.
The bourgeois sought to achieve social equality with the clergy and the nobles, so they also influenced and encouraged the commoners to start a revolution.
As a result, ordinary people became rebels and were supported by the bourgeois and the lower clergy who did not agree with the wasteful life of others.
The 5 main consequences of the French Revolution
1- Domino effect in other revolutions
During the French Revolution all French men were liberated and considered equal citizens under the law. This inspired slave revolts in America and independence movements.
In Latin America Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín liberated the majority of South America. By 1830, most Latin American countries were free.
In Europe there were also similar revolts. The French Revolution was the spark that initiated the subsequent revolutions around the world.
2- Development of the republic and democracy
One of the consequences of the French Revolution was the development of the republic, not only in France, but also in many other countries.
The nation, and not the king, was recognized as the greatest source of authority in the State. In France this was made official with the establishment of the republic in 1792.
The written constitutions introduced a representative assembly and a legislature elected by popular vote.
3- Elimination of hierarchical society
It ended the French hierarchical society divided into social classes, in which the nobility was privileged.
It began to include the concept of citizenship and equality before the law, so the official positions of the State began to be delivered -at least in theory- based on individual merits.
This caused new men to be in positions of authority throughout France.
4- Separation of Church and State
The Church and the State, united for centuries, were separated. Freedom of religion was established and non-Catholics achieved civil equality.
Civil marriage was introduced in 1792 along with divorce and a small increase in gender equality was achieved.
5- Establishment of human rights
The French Revolution led to the Declaration of the rights of men in France, which caused many discussions and deliberations around human rights, including the rights of slaves and women.
The rights of men, taken from the ideals of the Enlightenment, were formally proclaimed.
It was said that the French Revolution was the first revolution to be founded on the theory of the rights of humanity.
The slogan of"freedom, equality and fraternity"was one of the most representative revolutionary symbols for French society.
Thanks to the French Revolution, the basis for the recognition of human rights was formed, by creating movements to fight against slavery and supporting feminism around the world.
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