The political, economic and social causes of the revolution
Before the revolution, France had a monarchy, led by King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette. Louis was a weak leader. He was indecisive and allowed matters to drift. France’s economy was also in decline. On the surface, the economy appeared to be sound, because both production and trade were expanding rapidly. However, the heavy burden of taxes made it almost impossible to conduct business profitably within France. The cost of living was rising, bad weather caused crop failures, resulting in a shortage of grain, the price of bread doubled, and many people faced starvation. The king and queen plunged France further into debt with their excessive spending and put off dealing with the money situation. France was divided into three large social classes, or estates. The first two were higher up, wealthy, and had privileges. The Third Estate, however, was the poorer class, had no privileges, and only one group of the three in this estate was educated, the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie was the wealthiest in the Third Estate, they were generally well educated, but they lacked privileges, as the rest of the Third Estate. The bourgeoisies were often as wealthy as nobles, and it angered them that they did not get privileges. The bourgeoisies were big starters in the Revolution.