Name: Shauntel Grant
Tutor: “The deficit would not have produced the revolution, but in concurrence with the price of bread.”
If we are to have some way of understanding the extraordinary sequence of events, causes and consequences which goes by the name of the French Revolution, we must begin by outlining the conditions which gave rise to it. A major focus of many historians as it relates to what precipitated the revolution is that of the financial deficit or crisis which France was undergoing during the 1780’s. However, many historians such as Arthur Young have opined that the deficit in conjunction with the price of bread is what created a climate ripe for revolt.
The catalyst that fused the social tensions of France in a tremendous explosion was the bankruptcy of the monarchy. The Royal finance was inadequate since the reign of Louis the xiv, and finally succumbed under the burden of the American War of Independence. The end of the war left the monarchy with a burden of debt in the region of 3400million leavres and an annual deficit of about 80million.The scope of retrenchment in the remaining sectors of the economy was inadequate to balance the budget. The level of taxation could not be materially increased in a period of declining real wages.
Following the seven years war, a surge in production after 1778, gave rise to what is known as the splendour of Louis xv. It was checked in France by difficulties routed in agricultural fluctuations, a continual problem of the old economy. These set backs became established in cyclical depressions and caused what historians such Labrousse call the decline of Loius the xvi. First, unsual heavy grape harvests provoked a dreadful slump in the wine market. Prices fell as much as 50% they rose somewhat after 1781 because of scarcity, but short supply then meant that the wine sector could not recoup is losses. Wine growing was practiced in almost every part of the kingdom...