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Word Count: 1,332
The causes of the French Revolution are so complicated that a debate still rages among historians regarding its origins causes and results In general the real causes must lie with the increasing discontent various members of society had for the rigid social structure of the Ancient Regime As it had been for centuries French society was divided into three Estates or Orders The First Estate consisted of the clergy and the Second Estate the nobility At the bottom of this hierarchy was the vast Third Estate which meant every one else The King ruled as absolute monarch and there was no parliament This social structure was based on inequalities which were sanctioned by the force of the lawThere is no evidence to suggest that either Rousseau or David helped in causing the French Revolution Certainly Rousseaus philosophy did not advocate violence However their political ideas displayed through Rousseaus philosophy and Davids paintings questioned the established order and supported a democracy As celebrated figures they helped to create what could be called a revolutionary mentality The essence of Rousseaus message was that society was corrupt but capable of regeneration His Social contract 1762 opens with the slogan Man is born free and everywhere he is in chainsBlock 3 p96 The chains are the binds of society but he was not talking about braking free from society but rather considering how it can be right to live in society when the natural state is to be free His conclusion we can be both free and ruled only if we rule ourselves Tutors notes p2 This idea of democracy would have been attractive to wealthy members of the Third Estate who although rich were trapped in the system and could not get any of the power or privileges available to the Nobles It would also have appealed to the peasants who were suffering from poverty starvation and heavy taxation whilst the King and the aristocrats lived in
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