France: Once Glorious, Now in Ruins
1789. The year that started it all. With Louis XVI (the 16th) as King, with economic troubles on the rise, and with France’s population being split into three Estates, all Hell will break loose. In the late 1780’s in France there were some problems. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the King and Queen of France, made a bad set of monarchs. And while the Third Estate tried to become politically involved, other problems became larger as well.
With King Louis XVI, an incompetent monarch leading the people of France, problems are about to emerge. Unknowingly, King Louis XVI became one of the causes of the French Revolution. He was slow at making decisions, so therefore, problems became bigger. The poor people of France became poorer under the reign of the King. “The children were terribly ragged.” (Arthur Young- Travels in France- 1788). They had no shoes or stockings either. King Louis XVI obviously did not have the know-how to take care of the people of his country. Although King Louis was called a king, he really did not act like one, and was not fit to rule.
Another deadly cause of the French Revolution was the Economic Crisis that was going on in the years of 1788 and 1789. In those two years, the devastating crop results were badly received by the people of France. There was a slowdown in manufacturing, and that led to food shortages, rising prices for the food, and unemployment. And, the lives of the poor people of France reached crisis mode on the eve of the Revolution. Here’s an example of how the economy was bad: In August of 1788, a commoner who worked with wallpaper and earned roughly $15.00 a day, paid 60% of their wages on bread. A year later in 1789 however, that same wallpaper commoner had to pay 97% of their wages on bread (Economics of the French Revolution chart). As you can see, the economy had very bad problems in those two years. It really added to the stress and fear of many people that a revolution might be coming to their doorstep.
Three. That is the number of groups that France’s population was split into. The First Estate, made up of the clergy (church people), the Second Estate, made up of the nobility, and the Third Estate, made up of the peasants/commoners of France. Each of these three Estates in France added to the French Revolution in a major way. Both the First and Second Estate’s were rich and tax exempted! But it was the Third Estate that carried the brunt of it. In Abbé Sieyès’s pamphlet from 1789, What is the Third Estate? he asks, “What is the Third Estate?” The answer? “Everything.” The Third Estate had all of the taxation and barely any of the money! (Spielvogel 548). Most of the Third Estate and a few members of the First and Second Estates were ready for change. The Third Estate wanted to be a part of the political order in France, but they had a long road in front of them. A road that more or less led them to the French Revolution.
With the fact that France had a bad leader, bad money problems, and a gap between the rich and the poor, it is no wonder that they had a revolution coming towards them. Now, in today’s time, there are multiple reasons why people would want to start a ‘revolution’ of sorts here in America. With Obama’s so-called new health-care plan, many people of our country are becoming angrier each minute. Another reason for American citizens to be angry is the shutting down of Guantanamo Bay; the people do not want alleged terrorists to be running around loose. Let’s hope and pray that America doesn’t come to a ‘revolution’ because I am just a kid, and I would not want to see the nation crumbling in front of me.