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The Great Fear

French Revolution & Great Fear
Causes of The Great Fear

Pre revolutionary activity started when the French government began to falter.  The main problem was that the royal finances were in a considerable debt due to their spite for the British and their hasty decision to aid the people who were rebelling in the American Revolution.  This problem wasn’t being ignored, the French government went through many ministers yet they all managed to unsuccessfully propose a tax arrangement to form a more uniform system.  Because of the French government’s failure in producing a fair plan they found themselves in constant battles with the parliament, dominated by the nobility and with everyone else.  This meant that 99 percent of the countries was unhappy with the situation, causing stress upon the nation that was soon about to burst.  Finally an approved plan came after Louis XVI dismissed all of his ministered and pursued a strategy of conspicuous spending, which meant that if they could convince potential creditors to stabilize France’s finances then the 99 percent that was upset would soon have renewed convinced of the order of France’s government.  As wonderful as that sounds the problems continued because very few wanted to aid France, and very few were willing to take the liability of losing all of their money on this unstable government.  This road blocked forced the king to create a land tax to help pay off the difference in the long term and for the short term he hand-picked an Assembly of Notables to help restore confidence in French finances.  Disagreement between this assembly and the king caused chaos because the nobles wanted less taxes and the king continued to collect taxes to spike them.  This chaos caused the short term “creditors” to lose faith in France system and withdrawal their loans to France.  This by default caused uproar.  The second reason for the great fear is that the voting system gave one vote to the church, one to the head of the assembly, and another to the “third estate” or 98 percent of the population.  This caused problems because majority was given to the church and the assembly, which were very corrupt.  The people asked that two votes should be given to the people but they were denied.  The third and final reason for the great fear was the lack of a consistent food source.  The royalty and nobility were feasting with huge dinners and parties while the average man starved.  As the royalty and nobility viewed the people as nearly nothing they didn’t care how many died as long as they got what they deserved.  This caused resentment of the royalty and nobility and pushed the people over the edge.

The Great Fear

As complex as the problem leading up to the great fear, the even itself was actually pretty simple.  In July and August of 1789 the people decided to start the French Revolution.  With this revolution rumors spread among the peasants that nobles had hired brigands to march through the villages and destroy the peasant’s new harvest and their homes.  This fear added to the already existing fear because of the lack of good harvest in 1787.  In response the peasants pretty much went crazy and ransacked castles of the nobles and burned documents known as terriers, were recordings of feudal obligations and were locked in the châteaux.

Liberty Bell

Results of The Great Fear

The results of the Great Fear were very rewarding.  The high of this being Night of 4 August in which the nobles gave up their rights and their titles.  This day lead to a new, balanced class structure, a tax decrease, and the bishops giving up their tithe.  The new, balanced class structure allowed more people to be average instead of the majority being poor, and few being excessively wealthy.  This allowed the government to be more stable and allow it to rely on itself to produce the necessities instead of outside countries.  The tax decrease also aided the balance of wealth among everyone because nobles and royalty did not pay taxes, so the high taxes made the poor poorer and the rich richer. This is obviously unfair and the new tax system forced nobles to pay taxes so that the prosperity of country could grow and someday flourish.  The tax decrease and the balance of the class structures coincided with each other as the king could not enforce taxes as easily because he had to go through an assembly.  Also, by electing a leader the ruler would have to make the people happy and not just rule by blood but rule by what was just. Finally, the Catholic Church took a step towards becoming less corrupt because the bishops gave up their tithe, which were their one percent of taxes; this meant that they had to be based of donation and other benefits instead of living off the government.  This began the separation between church and state and gave more power to the people and less power to the church, nobles, and royalty.  

The Great Fear allowed order to return to France.
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Overall the Great Fear not only changed the face of  France and the Catholic Church, but it also gave inspiration to other countries in the same dire situation.