The French Revolution was the expression of the American war of independence and the reformation ideas that spread in Europe during the 17th and 18th century. It was a period of radical social upheaval in France that had a fundamental impact on the French as well as the world history. French revolution saw a series of events extending over a period of more than 10 years from 1789-1799. The French revolution took place during the reign of King Louis XVI of the Bourbon dynasty. Many reasons are cited for this great French Revolution in the world history which largely influenced the geopolitics of Europe in the 18th century.
One of the foremost reasons for the French Revolution was due to the policies of the Bourbon dynasty which believed in the divine right duty. France was an aristocratic society with the nobility and the clergy dominating the public decisions which were largely self-centric and hardly involved any public opinion and welfare of the masses.
King Louis XIV was a strong ruler but his descendants King Louis XV and King Louis XVI were very incompetent and incapable leaders and proved to be weak administrators. King Louis XVI was the most incompetent with his Queen Marie interfered too much in the administration even though she was ignorant of the sufferings of the poor and the destitute. She did not allow financial reforms as these affected the interests of the nobility and the clergy. The society of France had a major role to play in the French Revolution.
The French society, in the 18th century was based on inequality and had three major divisions namely the clergy, nobility and the commoners. The nobility fought, the clergy prayed and the commoners had to pay. The war expenses of the French government due to the war of American independence as well as the Carnatic wars in India had dented the treasures of France. National debt had increased beyond the limit contributing as an economic factor in French Revolution.
To drive the economy out of the Hornet’s nest, the government planned to put more tax burdens on the commoners, which led a wide social unrest and the slogan of “No taxation without representation” became famous among the masses. This made the king to sell important state offices to mobilize national income which, to a great extent jeopardized the societal functions of the French culminating into French Revolution.
A pivotal role in this French Revolution was played by the various social and political philosophers who prepared the people for the uprising. Most important among them were Montesquieu, Voltaire and Rousseau. The revolutionary ideas of these philosophers created awareness among the masses. The impact of American war of independence acted as a catalyst to the French who now decided to put an end to this despotic rule and introduce Rule of Law and People’s representation in the French society.
These were few of the causes which led to French Revolution, one of the most cataclysmic event of the 18th century in the world history.