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French aid proved decisive in forcing the main British army to surrender at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781.The Americans gained their independence, and the war ministry rebuilt the French army.The American Revolution demonstrated that it was plausible for Enlightenment ideas about how a government should be organized to actually be put into practice.
Similarly, the destination of tithes which the peasants were obliged to pay to their local churches was a cause of grievance as it was known that the majority of parish priests were poor and the contribution was being paid to an aristocratic, and usually absentee, abbot.
The clergy numbered about 100,000 and yet they owned 10% of the land.
David Thomson argued that the bourgeoisie and peasantry had "something to lose, not merely something to gain" in their demands for a fairer society and this fear too was a major factor in the revolutionary situation.
A growing number of the French citizenry had absorbed the ideas of "equality" and "freedom of the individual" as presented by Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Denis Diderot and other philosophers and social theorists of the Age of Enlightenment.
Heavy expenditures to conduct losing the Seven Years' War (1756–1763), and France's backing of the Americans in their War of Independence, ran the tab up an even further 1.3 billion livres Louis XV and his ministers were deeply unhappy about Britain's victory in the Seven Years' War and, in the years following the Treaty of Paris, they began drawing up a long-term plan that would involve constructing a larger navy and building an anti-British coalition of allies.
In theory, this would eventually lead to a war of revenge and see France regain its colonies from Britain. On the advice of, what many believed was, his mistress, the Marquise de Pompadour, the king supported the policy of fiscal justice designed by d'Arnouville.
France in 1787, although it faced some difficulties, was one of the most economically capable nations of Europe.
The French population exceeded 28 million; of Europe's 178 to 188 millions, only Imperial Russia had a greater population (37 to 41 million).) all placed France near the very top of the scale.
This policy also failed; therefore, Louis convened the Assembly of Notables in 1787 to discuss a revolutionary new fiscal reform proposed by Calonne.
When the nobles were told the extent of the debt, they were shocked; however, the shock did not motivate them to rally behind the plan – but to reject it.