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Year 12 - History - The French Revolution: Causes of the French Revolution

Units 3 and 4 - Causes & Consequences

Key events that contributed to the Revolution

The events and other conditions that contributed to the outbreak of revolution included:

  • involvement in the American War of Independence,
  • friction between monarchy and Parlements,
  • noble privileges,
  • peasant grievances,
  • economic change,
  • the calling of the Estates-General and their regulation,
  • the ‘Cahiers de Doléances’,
  • decisions made by Louis XVI,
  • political pamphlets,
  • the harvest crisis and food shortage
  • and the dismissal of Necker. 

Popular Movements that contributed

The contribution of popular movements in mobilising society and challenging the existing order, included:

  1. the Réveillon Riots,
  2. the storming of the Bastille,
  3. the ‘Great Fear’
  4. and the October Days.

Ideas that challenged the existing Order

The ideas that played a significant role in challenging the existing order, included the Enlightenment, the attack on ‘ministerial despotism’ in the revolt of the Notables 1787–88, the critique of privilege, the attack on feudalism and claims to popular sovereignty and equality.