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Economic Causes

The French system of taxation was both unjust and unfair despite the fact that peasants in the neighbouring countries suffered much more than them. The privileged classes did not pay most of the taxes and the burden was naturally shifted on the shoulders of the peasants.

The members of the third estate had to pay both the direct taxes (Taille) and a number of indirect taxes. Indirect taxes were levied upon essential goods like salt and tobacco. Thus, the third estate was shouldering all the financial burden of the State.

Worker in a Salt Field


Tobacco Field

The Struggle to Survive
There was a massive increase in the population, in 1789. The production of food grains could not keep pace with the increasing demand. This led to the increase in price of bread, which was the staple food for the majority of people in France. Workers who were working under fixed wages could not make both ends meet. This only widened the gap between the rich and the poor. Condition of the people worsened with drought and hail, which reduced the harvest. Thus subsistence crisis became very common during the Old Regime.

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