French Revolution

The Revolution must be understood as a succession of interrelated events. Power struggles, anger and uprising in popular groups, propaganda and agitation, all these elements together with the new ideologies will be key in the succession of events. We can, however, name some of the objective factors that made the Revolution possible.

Society is divided into three estates. The nobility and the clergy are the only ones that have political representation. They have privileges before the courts and in the army and do not pay taxes. To the third estate, called the third State belong all those who are not part of the two previous ones; poor, peasants, merchants, bourgeois... people of very different social extract and of diverse economic power and cultural level. The bourgeoisie is acquiring more and more economic power, since finance, commerce and the means of production are in their hands. The nobility views the de facto power of the bourgeoisie with concern. In addition, the bourgeois are the ones who carry out studies, the ones who develop ideas of political equality and of a government and a rational society. At the same time, they are becoming aware of their place in society and will claim the political power that corresponds to them.

The intellectual situation is also novel. Public opinion is created and developed. Society expresses its opinion on political and social issues, debate becomes commonplace, currents of thought are created, absolutism and feudalism are criticized. The creation of the United States of America brings with it the debate on the legitimacy of slavery, the character of the church and the state is questioned and the need for a new constitution is claimed.

France develops a strong policy of expansionist capitalism. But this development occurs above all in the north of France and only one social class benefits from it. Society is immersed in a great transformation, contradictions arise and the crisis of the state is getting deeper. The harvests are bad and the state coffers are empty, fiscal solutions must be sought. The only way to improve the financial situation would be for the privileged classes to also pay taxes. But the king and the statesmen do not finish making up their minds and the situation destabilizes. The economic crisis worsens when France is involved in the war of independence from the United States, which entails many expenses and few benefits.

As a consequence of the possible fiscal changes, the aristocracy sees its situation in danger and organizes uprisings in 1787 and 1788. Despite the fact that the need for change is on everyone's lips, the king does not manage the situation well and accumulates failures in his attempts. of administration reform. The aristocracy has the ability to keep the situation at an impasse . Faced with the situation of blockade, the nobility asks the king to convene the Estates General to provide a solution to the financial crisis that has already become a political crisis. The Estates General are a kind of general assembly to discuss the situation of the state, which brings together the three social classes.

Responding to the demand of the nobility, but also forced by the situation, Louis XVI accepted that the Estates General meet in May 1789. In preparing them, all of France will be mobilized and the notebooks of complaints, where the complaints and propositions of each estate will be collected. Assemblies are called, the debate is generalized, authority is criticized and clashes appear the various orders. The Old Regime has no other way out to deal with the structural crisis it is suffering. At first, King Louis XVI will object to their operation and the nobles and the clergy will not accept the representation of the Third Estate. Despite this, they will not be able to restore the previous situation. In fact, the Third Estate will gain more power, and instead of proposing a review of finances and the economy, it will question the state itself, which will make this situation irreversible.