discuss the long term causes of the French Revolution


The long term causes of the French revolution can be identified as: weak leadership, presence of the enlightenment, the American War of Independence, and the structure of French society.To begin with, Louis XVI has traditionally been viewed as a weak leader. His continual change in estate generals in 1789 displayed his desire to please the people, rather than maintaining a stable society, the flight to Varennes in 1791 completely undermined the revolution and suggested that the monarchy and revolution could not co-exist in France. Louis therefore cultivated an image of himself that represented everything that was wrong and unjust within French society, meaning he needed to be overthrown in order for France to progress.Secondly, the presence of the enlightenment hugely impacted the direction of the French revolution. Soldiers, such as Lafayette, returned from the American war of independence with the notion of freedom ringing in their ears, leading to ideas of 'liberty, equality, fraternity' throughout France. With the archaic system of monarchy having been overthrown in the war (Britain was defeated by America), it was clear that the old regimes of power were quickly being defeated by modern ideas of liberty and democracy. France's punishing structure of estates that the ancién regime consisted of, was not compatible with the modern ideas of liberty and equality, and so the grievances of the 3rd estate, versus the privileges of the top two estates, meant that France was headed in only one direction: revolution.

Nicole E.

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