How Important Were Economic Causes Of The French Revolution?


Rachelle Ward

Y9 History 


          Economical causes of the French Revolution were in fact very important and influential. Without this type of cause it is very likely that the revolution in France ever would have happened. Even so there are three other important factors to the revolution, Political, Social, and Cultural. All four of these causes together are what really caused the French Revolution.


          Before the French Revolution France was in a major economic crisis. There was a royal debt; the French government kept spending more money than it was receiving by taxes. By 1786 the government realised the problem they were in, but they were already far into it by then. At this time there was immense poverty in France, even though some people in France were very rich a large amount of them were poor. Taxes were high and so were prices, but the wages were low. Unable to provide for their families the lower classes of France were also in an economical crisis, which was one of the things that drove them to revolt.


          Another major cause to the French Revolution was Politics. People at the time were not happy with the fact that France was a complete monarchy. The king had power over everything, whatever he said had to be done was done whenever he wanted it to be done. Many claimed that King Louis XVI abused his power and that he was a tyrant. One major thing that made the French people angry was his use of ‘sealed letters,’ known as ‘lettres de cahcet’ to the French. These letters were letters of execution or imprisonment.  The king would sign his name on the paper and send the letters to his ministers, who could fill in any name that they wanted. These letters made the people feel insecure of their lives, even if they had done nothing wrong they always had to fear that a minister would not get along with them and then they may receive a letter. During King Louis XVI time of power around 14,000 of these letters were issued among his people. People were angry that the King had complete power over them and their families, but they were also angry of the laws that the whole government had issued. Taxes were issued according to social class, and privileges like voting and even the freedom of speech depended on a person’s status. The French were not happy with the power that the government had, they were angry with the laws that government was enforcing, and overall the French were upset with their whole political system. This is one factor that led the people to revolting in France.    


          Social causes were also very vital to the revolution. Before the French Revolution the whole way that a person lived and breathed depended on their social status. The higher classes and the church had to pay little or no taxes, they got special treatment in court or they had their own courts and they overall had many privileges. On the other hand the lower classes had no privileges, the people above them governed them and they had no control over their lives. The equality that didn’t exist at the time was definitely another reason that angered the French and drove them to revolting.


          One last type of cause to the French Revolution was cultural causes. Before the French Revolution people thought that the way that they lived, as described above, was the only way to live. As time passed and things became more modern the idea of changing the way that they lived crept into peoples’ minds. And so they decided to try, that is where the revolution began.


          All of these causes, Political, Economical, Social, and Cultural, all played their own very significant part in the French Revolution. The question, ‘How important are the economical causes of the French Revolution?’ can be answered in the statement that without these economical causes the French Revolution never would have happened. The truth is though that all of these causes are critically important and that it is all of them together that caused the French Revolution.