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Royal Excess and Corruption - Catalysts of the French Revolution

Royal Excess and Corruption - Catalysts of the French Revolution

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The French Revolution, a pivotal moment in history, was catalyzed by a culmination of factors, with corruption at the forefront. The ruling class, ensconced in opulence at Versailles, grew increasingly disconnected from the realities faced by ordinary Parisians. Louis XIV, hailed as the Sun King, established a cult of personality that excluded the working class and poor, exacerbating social divisions. Meanwhile, Louis XVI's lack of political acumen and his decision to dismiss reformist figures like Jacques Necker further fueled public discontent. 

Marie Antoinette, with her extravagant tastes and indulgences, became a symbol of royal excess. Her lavish spending on chocolate, fashion, and even her personal retreat at Petit Trianon heightened resentment towards the monarchy. The aristocracy, exempt from taxes borne by the common folk, flaunted their wealth while the populace suffered. 

The monarchy's mishandling of finances, exacerbated by support for the American Revolution, plunged France into economic turmoil. Rumors of aristocratic conspiracies, such as the Pacte de Famine, fueled public outrage and distrust. 

The revolution, although sparked by genuine grievances, also saw unlikely participants like Louis Philippe II, Duke du Orleans, aligning with the revolutionaries. Ultimately, Louis XVI's introspection and perceived ineptitude, whether due to depression or not, sealed his fate and marked the end of the monarchy. 

Top image: Romantic history painting. Commemorates the French Revolution of 1830 (July Revolution) on 28 July 1830. Source: Public Domain 

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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