Causes of the French Revolution DBQ Name: Per:
The French Revolution of 1789 had many long-range causes. Political, social, and economic conditions in France contributed to the discontent (unhappiness) felt by many French people-especially those of the Third Estate. The ideas of the philosophers of the Enlightenment brought new ideas about the role of government and powers guaranteed to citizens. Finally, the American Revolution showed the French that a country could be successful without a king.
DBQ Prompt: What caused the French Revolution?
Directions: Answer the questions which follow each document to help you as you go.
Document 1: Friedman & Foner, A Genetic Approach to Modern European History, College Entrance Book Co., 1938
“. . . Powers of the king.—The King, Louis XVI, was absolute. He ruled by the divine right theory which held that he had received his power to govern from God and was therefore responsible to God alone. He appointed all civil officials and military officers. He made and enforced the laws. He could declare war and make peace. He levied taxes and spent the people’s money as he saw fit. He controlled the expression of thought by a strict censorship of speech and press. By means of lettres de cachet (sealed letters which were really blank warrants for arrest) he could arbitrarily imprison anyone without trial for an indefinite period. He lived in his magnificent palace at Versailles, completely oblivious to the rising tide of popular discontent. . . .”
Q1: What kind of a ruler is Louis XVI?
Q2: Why might the people of France be angry with King Louis XVI?
Document 2: This diagram illustrates the three estates in 1789 and the land each held during the Old Regime.
Q3: What conclusions can you draw about the relationship between the percentage of the population in each estate and the percentage of land owned by that estate?
Q4: What unfair conditions existed in pre-revolutionary France?
Document 3: Excerpt from: Miss Betham-Edwards, ed., Arthur Young’s Travels in France During the Years 1787, 1788, and 1789
“September 5, 1788: The poor people seem very poor indeed. The children are terribly ragged.
June 10, 1789: The lack of bread is terrible. Stories arrive every moment from the provinces of riots and disturbances, and calling in the military, to preserve the peace of the markets….The price of bread has risen above people’s ability to pay. This causes great misery.
July 12, 1789: Walking up a long hill, to ease my mare, I was joined by a poor woman, who complained of the times, and that it was a sad country; demanding her reasons, she said her husband had but a small plot of land, one cow, and a poor little horse, yet they had to pay a tax of 42 pounds of wheat, and three chickens, to one noble and 168 pounds of oats, one chicken and 1 sou [small unit of money] to another...the taxes and laws are crushing us.
This woman, at no great distance, might have been taken for sixty or seventy, ...