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C O U R S E 
The French Revolution
Peter McPhee, The University of Melbourne
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
1780s France Financial Crisis and its Repercussions
Notes taken on September 11, 2014 by Edward Tanguay
two major political events that affected France leading up to the French Revolution
1763: After French and Indian War, French expelled from North America and being reduced to its key colonies in the Caribbean
1776: France aided America in the War of Independence from Britain
its actions in 1781 were crucial to the American colonists because the French navy effectively blockaded Chesapeake Bay where major British forces were and forced their surrender
victory at last against its British rivals has enormous costs
the cost of the war per year was about twice the revenue that the French government would take in taxes
creates a major financial crisis for the French monarchy
Louis XVI takes action
1787 Meeting of the Assembly of Notables
failed: don't want to pay more takes on property, for instance
1787 Parliament of Paris refuses to register royal reforms
17888 Lamoignon fails to reduce power of parliament
nobles were of the opinion that Louis XVI was trying to undermine ancient rights
1788: Journée des Tuiles in Grenoble
royal troops marching to the city are pelted by roofing tiles
Louis XVI decides that trying to force the noble courts to reform is not going to work
therefore, Louis calls a meeting of the Estates General
a body that hasn't met in 175 years, a meeting of the three orders: clergy, nobility, and commons
it is only an advisory body, but a move that electrifies public opinion
1788: Louis XVI decrees that representatives for the Third Estate will be double that of the other two estates
focuses public debate on this question
when they gather, will the three estates meet individually or together
whether or not there will be one common assembly or not, electrifies opinion
it's not about the king anymore, "it has become a war between the third estate and the other two orders"
rural cultures
a world that is oral rather than written
early 1789:
the king makes it plain:
every community is to draw up a "cahiers de doléances" (list of grievances)
representatives will take these to Versailles to inform the king
for the first time in history, common people are not only allowed to voice their opinion, but they were required to do so
example: Erceville,
the people of Erceville, or at least the male heads of household gather in a meeting place near the church and write down, or at least have a literate man write down, their grievances
mostly grievances about taxation
they want the Estates General to become a permanent feature of public life in France
March 1789
elections of the Estates General take place
these gatherings are tumultuous affairs
many peasants assumed and believed that because the king asked them to send him their grievances, that he was going to act on them