There were many factors that contributed to the French Revolution. First of all was the greatest percent of the population, the commoners, had the least amount of power and land. This laid the foundation for social unrest which is necessary for a revolution. Second, the French economy was very weak due to France’s involvement in the American Revolution. In addition to the economic problems that the American Revolution caused, it also put Enlightenment ideas into the minds of the French people. Last, weak leadership was provided under Louis XVI.
He called the Estates General into session to raise taxes to pay debts incurred due to the American Revolution. Once in session, the Third Estate, the commoners, demanded a representative National Assembly and a Constitution. When Louis XVI denied their request, they sat on the tennis court and swore not to leave until their demands were met. This is known as the “Tennis Court Oath. ” This stalemate was broken by the storming of the Bastille (a debtor’s prison) on July 14, 1789. Louis XVI agreed to their demands.
This revolution resulted in the end of the old paradigm and the eginning of the Enlightenment paradigm. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Constitution of 1791 were written. Some of these changes include freedom of speech , due process under law, equality under law. It also enabled the creation of a laissez-fairre economic policy, with a free market and free trade. I believe that this revolution was inevitable due to the conditions that the majority of the population was living under. It will also have a lasting impact because the Constitution will protect these rights.