What were the causes and the effects of the French Revolution?

The major cause of the French Revolution was the disputes between the
different types of social classes in French society. The French

Revolution of 1789-1799 was one of the most important events in the
history of the world. The Revolution led to many changes in France,
which at the time of the Revolution, was the most powerful state in

Europe. The Revolution led to the development of new political forces
such as democracy and nationalism. It questioned the authority of
kings, priests, and nobles. The Revolution also gave new meanings and
new ideas to the political ideas of the people.

The French Revolution was spread over the ten year period
between 1789 and 1799. The primary cause of the revolution was the
disputes over the peoples' differing ideas of reform. Before the
beginning of the Revolution, only moderate reforms were wanted by the
people. An example of why they wanted this was because of king Louis

XIV's actions. At the end of the seventeenth century, King Louis XIV's
wars began decreasing the royal finances dramatically. This worsened
during the eighteenth century. The use of the money by Louis XIV
angered the people and they wanted a new system of government. The
writings of the philosophes such as Voltaire and Diderot, were
critical of the government. They said that not one official in power
was corrupt, but that the whole system of government needed some
change. Eventually, when the royal finances were expended in the

1780's, there began a time of greater criticism. This sparked the
peasants notion of wanting change.

Under the Old Regime in France, the king was the absolute
monarch. Louis XIV had centralized power in the royal bureaucracy, the
government departments which administered his policies. Together,

Louis XIV and the bureaucracy worked to preserve royal authority and
to maintain the social structure of the Old Regime.

At this time in French history, the social classes played an
important role in the lives of the people. The social structure of

France was divided among three groups: the First Estate, the Second

Estate, and the Third Estate. Each social group had a varied type of
people within their structure, which presented the different views of
the people.

The First Estate was the Church. During the ancien regime, the
church was equal in terms of its social, economic, and spiritual
power. The First Estate owned nearly 10 per cent of all land in

France. It paid no taxes but, to support church activities such as
school running and caring for the poor, they collected a tithe, or a
tax on income. About one-third of the entire clergy in France served
as parish priests. Also included in this estate were the nobles. Some
of the nobles lived in luxury in major cities in France, such as

Versailles or Paris. Parish priests usually lived a hardworking life.

This Estate was the minority of the people in France, having
approximately 1 to 2 per cent of the population.

The Second Estate in French life was the nobility. They enjoyed
extensive rights and privileges. They made up less than 2 percent of
the population. They, like the First Estate, paid hardly any taxes.

Economically, the nobility was characterized by great land wealth.

Nobles were generally the richest members of the society. Typical
sources of income were rents and dues for the use of their farms or
estates. The First and Second Estates were grouped together because
they had similar political beliefs.

The Third Estate consisted of the commoners. It included the
bourgeoisie, peasants and city workers. The bourgeoisie, or the
middle class, were by far, the wealthiest. In the bourgeoisie, there
were the merchants and manufacturers, lawyers, doctors and others
similar to those types of professions. Peasants made up the largest
group within the Third Estate. They were forced to pay hefty taxes,
tithes to the church, and rents to their landlords for the land that
they lived on. The last group within the Third Estate were the city
workers. They were servants, apprentices, and household maids.

The major cause of the Revolution were the differences these
three groups had. However, there was another important factor during
these times. France suffered from harsh economic problems. Poor farm
harvests by farmers hurt the economy, and trade rules from the Middle

Ages still survived, making trade difficult. However, the most serious
problem was the problem facing the government during this time. The

French government borrowed much money to pay for the wars of Louis

XIV. Louis still borrowed money to fight wars and to keep French power
alive in Europe. These costs greatly increased the national debt,
which was, at the