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What were the origins of the French Revolution? Economically, politically, culturally, intellectually

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  1. The collapse of the administrative monarchy
  2. The political and economical crisis
  3. The intellectual, cultural and religious influences

Since the beginning of the Revolution, the contemporaries have looked for explaining the events that occurred during the French Revolution. They suggested several arguments about the causes of the revolution. Some argue that the Revolution is the consequence of a plot, an intellectual conspiracy. The comfortable idea of a philosophical or 'franc-maçon' plot, satisfied the need of explaining all these changes and events. However, looking closer, we notice the French revolution is the result of a double crisis, namely a structural and a temporary one. France is weakened by an economical crisis and the monarchy does not manage to reform the administration and the financial system. The State is bankrupted and the monarchy appears to be incapable to modernize itself. The 'Ancien Régime' society begins to be unsuited, and comes in disagreement with the new expectations of the French society and the economical structure. According to François Furet and Denis Richet, an 'enlightement society' emerged in the 'Ancien Régime' throughout the 18th century. The elite, both nobles and bourgeois try to influence the royal authority with modern reforms. This elite is mainly at the origin of the French revolution. Moreover, the revolution occured in a context of generalized troubles, to the same extent as the troubles and uprisings in the European monarchies. The American Revolution had a great impact on the French minds, especially the 'bourgeoisie' and the liberal nobles who continued fighting with the insurgents, such as the Marquis de La Fayette. In the early 1780s, Great Britain experienced social and political contestations and uprisings that claimed the will to enlarge the electoral body.

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