From Deficit to Deluge: The Origins of the French Revolution

By Thomas E. Kaiser; Dale K. Van Kley | Go to book overview
Save to active project

CHAPTER 1
Financial Origins of the
French Revolution

Gail Bossenga

Few would dispute that the immediate cause of the French Revolution was the impending financial bankruptcy of the royal government. In 1786 the controller-general, Charles-Alexandre de Calonne, announced that although the government’s total revenue was only approximately 474 million livres, expenditures were running around 575 million, leaving a deficit of 101 million.1 Nearly half of the crown’s expenses, furthermore, stemmed simply from the cost of servicing its enormous debt. Two years of feverish attempts by the king’s finance ministers, first Calonne and then Etienne-Charles de Loménie de Brienne, archbishop of Toulouse, to solve the pressing financial problem came to naught. On August 16, 1788, Brienne was forced to suspend payments on short-term loans falling due at the royal treasury and gave creditors interest-bearing notes instead, a measure commonly perceived as a partial bankruptcy. He also moved up the convocation of the Estates-General to the following May in order to put France’s financial house back in order. Absolute monarchy was to be no more.

In attempting to explain the financial origins of the Revolution, the question of why the monarchy went bankrupt has not posed a great mystery to historians. The French monarchy had suffered for centuries from

-37-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
From Deficit to Deluge: The Origins of the French Revolution
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 345

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?