Old Regime—Ancient Regime
a. Old Regime—socio-political system which existed in most of Europe during the 18th century
b. Countries were ruled by absolutism,
c. Social groups—privileged and unprivileged.
Society under the Old Regime
a. In France, people were divided into three estates:
i. First Estate: High-ranking members of the Church: Privileged class and did not pay taxes
ii. Second Estate: Nobility: Privileged class they also did not pay taxex
iii. Third Estate: Everyone else—from peasants in the countryside to wealthy merchants in the cities: Unprivileged class.
Economic conditions in France in the 18th century:
a. France’s economy was based on agriculture
b. Peasants suffered high taxation
c. Poor harvests meant that peasants had trouble paying their regular taxes.
d. Bourgeoisies complained about they paid taxes while nobles did not.
Philosophy of the French Revolution: Enlightenment
- Intellectuals questioned the divine right kings.
- Philosophers used reason and logic, rather than faith, religion, and superstition, to answer important questions
Long-term causes of the French Revolution
- Unjust socio-political system (Old Regime)
- Poor harvests which left peasant farmers with little money for taxes
- Influence of Enlightenment philosophers
- Influence of other successful revolutions:
1.England’s Glorious Revolution (1688-1689)
2. American Revolution (1775-1783)
Short-term causes of the French Revolution
- Bankruptcy caused by deficit spending
- Worst famine. Hungry peasants attack on nobles took place in 1789.
- Louis XVI had to call for a meeting of the Estates-General to find a solution to the bankruptcy.