The French Revolution

Article

August 8, 2022

The French Revolution or Great French Revolution (fr. Révolution française [ʁevɔlysjɔ̃ fʁɑ̃sɛːz]) began in May 1789, when the Old Order was overthrown and replaced by a constitutional monarchy. In September 1792, the monarchy was replaced by the First French Republic, and in January 1793, King Louis XVI was executed. Thus began a period of political instability, which ended with the appointment of Napoleon as the first consul in November 1799. This date is considered the end of the revolution. The French Revolution is one of the most important events in the history of France, it caused radical changes in French society. It is generally considered to be the main turning point in the history of Western democracy — as an era of transition from the age of absolutism and aristocracy to the age of democracy with the participation of broad sections of the population in the life of the country.

Reasons

Analysis of the causes of the French Revolution still causes controversy among historians. In its state structure in the 18th century, the Kingdom of France was an absolute monarchy based on a system of centralized bureaucracy and a standing army. However, between the royal power, which was completely independent of the ruling classes, and the privileged states of society, there was a kind of alliance - for the refusal of the clergy and nobility from political rights. The state power with all its power and all the means at its disposal protected the social privileges of these two states of society. At the same time, the influence of the third estate - all those who did not belong to the first two - was growing. At the end of the 18th century, France was one of the richest countries in Europe, second only to Great Britain and the Netherlands. At the same time, in the country, which was an absolute monarchy, there was no public control over the budget, which was scarce for many centuries. King Louis XVI spent lavishly, including military spending to wage the Seven Years' War and support the colonies in the American Revolution, and the national debt reached enormous proportions. Half of the budget went to pay interest on debt. The increase in taxes fell on the shoulders of the third estate, since the first two were exempt from taxation. The situation was complicated by crop failures in the 1780s and