What were some things that triggered the french revolution?
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Conditions in France were very oppressive and the French people led the way in revolt against tyrannical government, privileged classes and economic injustice for several reasons :
1. The French Bourgeoisie. The French middle class was the most powerful in continental Europe: wealthy, well-educated, growing in number, and ambitious. The bourgeoisie keenly resented the abuses of the Old Regime, and were eager for far-reaching reforms. In particular, they sought a place in the government to enable them to shape policies in accordance with their needs.
2. The French Philosophers. During the 18th century, France was the home of the Intellectual Revolution, a movement also known as the Enlightenment and as the Age of Reason. In the forefront stood a group of outstanding French philosophers. Challenging the tradition and authority of the King and Church, they insisted that human conduct be governed by reason and logic. They believed that the Old Regime must go in order to bring about a better world.
3. Influence of the English, and American Revolutions. The French more than any other people on the Continent, were imbued with revolutionary ideals because they had come in closest contact with the successful revolts in England and America. The English Glorious Revolution (1688-89) had a far-reaching influence on France because the two countries are geographically close to each other, the Stuart kings had lived in France during their exile. The French philosophers wrote in praise of the English Parliamentary system of government. The American Revolution (1775-83) had a profound and immediate influence on France because many Frenchmen of whom Lafayette was best-known had fought for the American cause, Benjamin Franklin, American minister in Paris, had popularized American ideals of democracy. The French government had entered into an alliance with, and given aid to, the American colonists.
4. Incompetent and Bankrupt Government. The government of France toward the end of the 18th century was incompetent. Although well-intentioned, King Louis XVI, who ruled from 1774-92, was unfit for his task, being dull of mind and weak in character. His Queen, Marie Antoinette, was unpopular because she was a foreigner (of Austrian birth), as well as vain and frivolous. The French treasury was impoverished, due to the royal extravagances and many years of his predecessors Louis XIV and Louis XV. instead of remedying France’s financial situation, Louis XVI brought the country to the verge of bankruptcy by making heavy expenditures in behalf of the American colonies in their revolt against England, permitting lavish spending by marie Antoinette and the royal court at Versailles, and failing to tax the privileged classes.
Two of Louis’ able finance ministers, first Turgot and then Necker, both agreed that to save France from bankruptcy, it would be necessary to end the extravagances of the court and to tax the privileged classes. The Queen and the court nobility, unwilling to yield their privileges, induced weak-minded Louis XVI to dismiss these competent ministers. Because of Louis’ failure to institute reforms, France’s finances worsened. By 1788, the country was in bankruptcy.