Aristocracy and once again thrive in France.
Aristocracy versus BourgoiseThe Dawn of the French RevolutionThe French Revolution is thought to be one of the most extreme revolutionary movements of all time. It brought about a great upheaval of French society which replaced the old regime with a modern society. The Revolution was sparked by a clash between two powerful opposing powers, both on the rise.
The clash was between the resurgent French aristocracy and the countrys rising bourgeois class. A parallel can be made to elucidate the conflict between the two antagonists: The aristocrats can be seen as the champion Prize Fighter, whos been around a long time. The bourgeoisie can be seen as the underdog, or new kid on the block whos come to steal the title; and that is just what they do.
During Louis XIVs rule over France, the French aristocrats were almost completely powerless. Louis had managed to gain complete control over them, and even use them as puppets to his own and the countrys benefit. Louis XIV was able to control his aristocracy because he was a very smart and innovative ruler, and with Versailles, he managed to subordinate the nobles to him without them knowing it. Louis XIVs successors, Louis XV and XVI, on the other hand, were not nearly as good statesmen as he was. With the loss of Louis XIV also came the loss of control of the French aristocracy. Its obvious with the death of Louis XIV, that the aristocracy, no longer under suppression of the king, was able to rise up from their meekness, regain power, and once again thrive in France.
In fact, distinguished government offices were practically monopolized by nobility during the reign of Louis XVI.The bourgeoisie was another rising power in France during the time of Louis XV and Louis XVI. The bourgeois social class was made up of some 2 million well off people, who were ranked between the nobility and the workers and peasants. People of the bourgeois class were mostly businessmen; bankers, lawyers, and overseas merchants.
The bourgeoisie began to gain power and influence around the same time the aristocrats were on the rise. Between 1713 and 1789 French foreign trade increase fivefold, thus fueling the growth of the bourgeoisie, who were mainly involved with international trade and business. As the bourgeoisie became economically more powerful, they also began to resent social all of the soccial distinctions the nobility received.
The bourgeoisie began to recognize the inequality in social standings and government positions, and they resented the fact that the nobility were slowly taking over. With the growing bourgeois class also came a growing rivalry between the two French powers and a cause for a movement: the French Revolution.There are a few reasons why the people of France began the revolution. The bourgeoisie made up only a small portion of the countrys population, and they were not the only ones who antagonized the aristocracy.
By the 1780s the majority of French public opinion had changed. All people wanted a more just judicial system, religious toleration, and above all else they wanted a reformation of the way France was governed. The idea of governmental reformation was the peoples main objective in the revolution. The common people wanted a more democratic system of government in which they could hold a place in French governmental affairs. At the time just before the actual revolution, France was ruled by Louis XVI and his queen Marie Antoinette. These two played a significant role in making the royal government very unpopular. In fact, people disliked Marie Antoinette so much that they made a name for her which sounded like the French word for bitch.
People also disliked the king because they thought he had too much power. Louis did in fact have many unjust powers over his subjects. He utilized a power called lettres de cache or sealed letters. Sealed letters enabled the king to warrant imprisonment or exile of any person in France, who he would named in the letter.
This was not the only way in which the king could impose in unjust authority. There was a wide range of other powers which enable Louis to simply do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. The French disliked the sealed letters more than any other aspect of the kings abuse of power, and in time, Louis was openly accused by the people of being a despot and a tyrant. Another cause for bourgeois reform was because of Frances current financial problems and the absurd attempt in taxation which later ensued. The French government was deep in debt and had been for many years, mostly because of all the money spent towards foreign military operations and upkeep.
The only possible way for France to avoid bankruptcy would be to raise taxes. Louis XVIs finance minister Calonne, formulated a plan which would reform the countrys tax system. This plan included a tax on land which all landowners would pay. When this plan was brought to Parlement, they rejected it and declared that only the Estates General had authority to pass the new tax plan. There was a brief struggle between the king and the Parlement when Louis tried to pass the tax without Parlementary consent. The Parlement and the king came to deadlock.
After six months Louis caved and agreed to call an Estates General.The Estates General met in May of 1789 at Versailles. It was made up of three estates. The first and second consisting of aristocrats and clergy, and the third being made up of bourgeoisie. The way the Estates General was set up gave the nobility an unfair advantage. The third estate saw this and insisted that the numbers in the third estate were doubled, that each member would receive one vote each, and that all three estates would meet and vote together in one room.
The king complied with the first but did not agree to let all estates meet together. There was much conflict between the nobles of the other two houses and the third house. The bourgeoisie and nobility begin their struggle for who will govern France.On June 17, the members of the third house, after being locked out of their chamber in the Estates General, declared itself the National Assembly. They gathered together in a tennis court neighboring the Estates General building, and singed the Oath of the Tennis Court on June 20, 1789. This oath said that the National Assembly would not disband until they had written a constitution.
This was a huge step towards revolution for the people of France. For the first time, they had openly defied the king, who had sided with the aristocrats, who were now their arch rivals.After the National Assembly, the bourgeoisie began to gain power in their fight to overthrow the French government and unjust social structure. Eventually the Revolution took place and a great many reforms occured. The only reason this all happened is because the people of France recognized the need for reform and decided to stand up for it. The Revolution was only possible because the underdog rallied enough courage to challenge the reigning champion. And, as we know, the underdog won, and the bourgeoisie brought great reform to French society.