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French Revolution Causes

Stalin, Depression, WWII, Holocaust, Chinese Revolution

Greg Smith

on 24 September 2013

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Transcript of French Revolution Causes

Causes of the French Revolution
Estates General
Weak Absolute Monarchy
American Revolution
Louis XIV
is important too
is important
King from 1643 (age FOUR!)-1714
Ruled 53 years
The Sun King
"L'État, c'est moi" - I am the state!
Gallicanism - King's authority > The Church/Pope
Centralization of the State
Palace of Versailles
The palace of Versailles is where in relationship to Paris?

16 miles SW. The palace was a day's coach ride from the capital. Louis XIV moved from Paris for safety reasons. While living in the Louvre as a young boy, an uprising frightened him as an attempt was made to storm the palace.

The palace and gardens are set on 19,262 acres. How big is that?

The entire Versailles site is larger than modern day Paris and the island of Manhattan

Construction of the palace, based on existing records, cost 116,438,892 livres. This is how much in current day dollars?

$2 billion. This massive cost does not include the cost of human lives, which was great. A substantial portion of the total cost was for renovations; each monarch changed the interior layout to suit his whim.

The entire complex was completed with the ultimate in opulence and luxury. Some first time visitors thought they had arrived at the palace, when in fact they had entered...

The royal stables. The stables for the 2,000 horses the King kept on site contained fireplaces and appeared to be a portion of the main palace.

The Hall of Mirrors contains 17 large chandeliers and 26 smaller ones each made of solid silver. How many candles did the chandeliers hold?


One location in the palace took 28 years to complete (from 1682 to 1710) because Louis XIV demanded absolute perfection in design, construction and materials. What was this section?

The Chapel. Towering above the roofline of the palace, the Chapel is by far the most notable aspect of the palace architechturally. Louis viewed the Chapel as a statement of his devotion to the Catholic church, and a statement of the Church's supremacy in France. Thus, perfection was required.

To escape the rigid court etiquette and formal ceremonies of Versailles, Marie Antoinette built a series of buildings where she could pretend to be a shepherdess or a milkmaid. What was the name given to this area ?

Le Hameau. This series of farm buildings were constructed with complete realism, down to cracks in the walls to simulate age. Cows were washed and groomed prior to the Queen's arrrival, and lambs were taken for walks with silk ribbons as leashes.

The Queen's bedchamber was one of the largest rooms in the private apartments because protocol required her to perform what function ?

Give birth in public. All of these functions were performed in the queen's bedchamber, but the one requiring the most room was when the queen gave birth in public. During the birth of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette's first child, the doctor panicked when 200 courtiers pushed into the room.

Who was the main architect of the palace of Versailles?

Jules Hardoin-Mansart. The palace, and particularly the royal stables, are considered to be Mansart's masterpiece.

What was the most important modern day event that took place at Versailles?

The signing of the treaty to end WWI. The Treaty of Versailles, ending World War I, was signed in the Hall of Mirrors. Additionally, when France was defeated in the Franco-Prussian War by the newly united nation of Germany in 1871, the new German Kaiser Wilhelm I crowned himself in the Hall of Mirrors. France was embarrassed and shamed.
Territorial Expansion Under Louis XIV and Louis XV
Louis V
Affairs - with peasants!
Advisors making decisions - learned the generalities of government policy without the specifics of implementation.
1743 closest advisor/childhood tutor died --> the king ruled alone
Instructions of Louis XIV: "Listen to the people, seek advice from your Council, but decide alone."
Louis XV lacked self-confidence, fearing that he might be wrong and other people might be right.
It was only when pushed to the limit, often when it was too late, that he suddenly resolved to bold action, with a brutality that stunned people
Overspending on military
Seven Years War - loss of French influence in North America and India
Continued spending on Versailles
Louis XVI
Grandson of Louis XV - Dauphin of France because his father died when Louis was 11
1770 - 15 year old Louis XVI married 14 year old Austrian princess Marie Antoinette
Austria was hated because France's alliance with Austria was what pulled them into the Seven Years War, so she was disliked from the moment she arrived
French called her "The Austrian Whore"
Arranged marriage - no connection
Louis XVI - shy, lack of consummation of marriage until 1777, cold toward her in public
Infertility issues - sign of weakness?
Eventually had three children, issue dropped
Marie Antoinette was depressed, had love affairs, and actively avoided Louis
Financial Debt
Louis' rule began at age 20 - felt unqualified
Initially, people called him "Good King Louis" and he is known to have said he "must always consult public opinion; it is never wrong."
Lacked decisiveness (hunting trips, tinkering with clocks, etc...)
Inherited EXTREME debt from previous kings
Supported the American Revolution with money, supplies, and troops
Additions to the Palace of Versailles
Court Spending
Extravagent clothing, jewelery, parties
Neckelace scandal
Marie Antoinette's "peasant cottages"
Jaques Necker (financial advisor) said change in tax system NECESSARY
1st and 2nd estate didn't want to pay taxes --> DEMANDED a vote of the Estates General be taken
Estates General hadn't been used since 1614! Louis allowed it and predictably, the 1st and 2nd Estate used their two votes to continue with no taxes.
Necker (a voice for the 3rd Estate) was dismissed.
Taxes were increased to 50% on 3rd Estate.
1791 - Louis and Marie Antoinette attempted to flee the country instead of face the issues at hand and find a solution
Lack of Strength
Inherited Debt
Lack of Leadership
Marriage Issues
The idea of “No taxation without representation”
The idea that it is people’s responsibility to overthrow a poor government.
The idea that all men are created equal.
The idea that a republic is greater than a monarchy.
The government is responsible to the people, NOT the opposite.
Bourgeoisie and peasants paid the most taxes.
Nobles were against changes in the tax system because they paid very few – if any taxes at all.
Need for a change in the tax system.
Accumulation of Debt
Seven Years War
Palace rennovations
Court Spending
American Revolution
Full transcript