Causes and Effects of the French Revolution

The French Revolution (1789–1799) was a pivotal period in the history of French, European and Western civilization. It was during this period that the absolute monarchy in France has been replaced by republicanism and the country’s Roman Catholic Church was forced to undergo restructuring. There were many causes of for the revolution to occur. This revolution was the result of years of frustration and hatred which had been embedded in the blood of common man of French empire against the 75 year old cruel monarchial government. My goal in this paper is to explain clearly the various causes of the French revolution and its later effects on the society. To achieve this goal I have organizes the paper into 2 sections, one of which has 3 sub sections. In the first section I provide an account of the various causes of the French revolution. In the second section I have discusses the napoleon experience and the legacies of the revolution have. I end my paper with a section that offers some important images regarding the revolution.


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The motto of French Revolution was a conjunction of three terms namely liberty, fraternity, and equality. “Liberty consists of being able to do anything that does not harm others: thus, the exercise of the natural rights of every man or woman has no bounds other than those that guarantee other members of society the enjoyment of these same rights.” The law “must be the same for all, whether it protects or punishes. All citizens, being equal in its eyes, shall be equally eligible to all high offices, public positions and employments, according to their ability, and without other distinction than that of their virtues and talents.” On the eve of the Revolution, France had grown to such a state that a revolution was irrefutable. The King and his nobles were resting comfortably on the poor and broken backs of most of the population of France, who at the time were finding a way to rise up together and fight for what they believed. Liberty, Equality and Fraternity were a reflection of the political, social, and economic breakdown, because they were the driving forces behind reforms needed to correct the corrupt Ancient Regime.

Causes of the French Revolution:

Economic causes of the French Revolution:

The causes of the French Revolution, being provoked by this collision of powers, were the financial debt of the government and the long-standing political differences in the government. Over the course of twenty-five years after the Seven Years’ War, the government of France–the Bourgeoisie royalty, could not manage its finances on a sound basis. This was worsened when France aided the American Revolution against Great Britain. The Government had reached great financial debt. The problem lied and continued because of the government’s inability to tap the wealth of the French nation by taxation. There was a great paradox in France being a rich nation with a government in poverty. The deteriorating finances of the government are what triggered the prolonged differences between the Bourgeoisie and the aristocracy. The political differences between the monarchy and the nobles came about after the Seven Years’ war also. The increasing debt of the government escalated the hope for the monarchy to resume an “absolute power” status as it did with Louis XIV. However this could not be accomplished because of the doubt that the public had towards the present kings Louis XV and Louis XVI, and the public could not be swayed to help. The only result of the attempts for absolutism by the monarchy was a series of new and increase taxes on the nobles. The aristocracy immediately reacted to these taxes as declaring them unfair and would not accept them. Louis XV began with a series of financial advisors chancellors which all had the intention of saving the monarchy from financial ruin. They made many attempts at taxation, such as a land tax, but each of these were defeated by the nobles — the Parliaments were even destroyed for a brief time, but were later restored by Louis XVI in attempt to gain public support. The government continued to become poorer and poorer and it seemed the only successful taxation was done towards the peasants, whom had the least money. The monarchy eventually fell and caused great unrest leading to the French Revolution.

Social causes of the French Revolution:-

The vast majority of the French public belonged to the working class whose hard earned money was being used to finance the foreign wars and the court extravagance along with being the treasury with which to repay national debt. Although on the face of it the King had consolidated absolute monarchy which should have put an end to feudalism, the small land owners and the peasant class were still bound to extremely unfair contracts with the feudal lords. This tension and frustration of the working class was the result of the oppressive rule of the monarchist regime. Although the regime had been very successful in defending France from foreign invaders and sorting out internal religious and other disputes it was believed to have been extremely unfair to the general public

Religious Causes of the French Revolution

If we are to be fair in analyzing the root causes of the whole revolution then we will have to admit that the religion of Christianity had a big role to play in it. The religion itself is not to be blamed but it is what the nobles and priests did under the banner of religion that is to be condemned. The Christian rulers of that time were known to be extremely intolerant which resulted in the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities in France. Moreover the principles of Christianity were distorted by the priests to gain power over the people and maintain their nobility as a result intellectually straight jacketing the government. This is the only reason why the monarchist regime of France was being considered as being backwards. When the ruling party is unjust and carries with it the banner of a religion then that religion gets the blame for being unjust. Consequently the revolutionary movement was also seen as an anti God movement because of the dealings of the so called men of God. It is actually those people who practiced injustice under the banner of religion and persecuted the people that gave birth to the atheistic spirit of the revolution and the deeds of the so called men of God can be seen as one of the major causes that ultimately led to the revolt.

Effects of the French Revolution

The effects of the French Revolution were widespread, both inside and outside of France, and the Revolution ranks as one of the most important events in the history of Europe. The French Revolution, though it seemed a failure in 1799 and appeared nullified by 1815, had far-reaching results. In France the bourgeois and landowning classes emerged as the dominant power. Feudalism was dead; social order and contractual relations were consolidated by the Code Napoleon. The Revolution unified France and enhanced the power of the national state. The Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars tore down the ancient structure of Europe, hastened the advent of nationalism, and inaugurated the era of modern, total warfare.






1)      Professor Hanson Pens New Book on French Revolution

2)      A Chronicle of the French Revolution. – Book reviews by Jeffrey Hart, 1989.Print.

3)      “Historical Census Browser.” University of Virginia Library

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Causes and Effects of the French Revolution. (2017, Feb 14). Retrieved from