QUESTION: WHAT WERE THE MAJOR CAUSES OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION?.
In the early 18th century, France enjoyed the comfort of being the most powerful nation in the world. Under the rule of Louis XIV (1643-1715), France formed a centralized government that encouraged trade and manufacturing that become the envy of the world. This comfort would bring France's decline. .
The successors of Louis XIV, Louis XV (1715-1774) and Louis XVI (1774-1793), would bring the world's most powerful nation to its knees. France would continue to involve itself in a series of over ambitious wars that would devistate their economy. This combined with unfair tax collections, social inequality, weak leadership, and the people's cry for freedom and equality would ignite a fire that only Revolution could extinguish.
The causes of the French Revolution were many and developed over a long period of time, however they were all intertwined in some way. The primary causes would include the weak leadership of Louis XVI as a absolute monarch, the formation of social classes, French support of the American Revolution, Financial burdens, and the Age of Enlightenment. .
Perhaps the most important factor was the different social classes and the impact and control that the higher classes had on the government. The people of France were divided into three basic classes or estates. The first estate consisted of the clergy. The second consisted of the nobility, while the third estate consisted of the Bourgeoisie, the city workers and the peasants. A Frenchmen's estate had a direct impact on his rights. The first and second estates were the privileged classes. They were exempt from paying many taxes, yet they held most of the money. The first and second estates were also the only members in society who could hold positions of importance such as military officers or political offices. The third estate consisted of the commoners. The bourgeoisie, or middle class, were by far the wealthiest.