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What caused the French Revolution?

A mob storms the BastilleA mob storms the BastilleOn 14th July 1789, a mob stormed the Bastille, the royal prison in Paris. This was a challenge to the authority of the French king, Louis XVI. At the same time, riots broke out across the country. The French Revolution had begun. Four years later, the king and his wife were dead and France had become a republic. 


The Storming of the Bastille, 14th July 1789The Storming of the Bastille, 14th July 1789

Louis XVI, King of France from 1774 to 1791Louis XVI, King of France from 1774 to 1791

Causes of the Revolution

In the 1780s, the ordinary people of France were unhappy about taxation (payments made by people to the government). Rich nobles in France did not pay any taxes, but working people and poor peasants were forced to do so. In 1788, a bad harvest led to many people going hungry. The king and queen, meanwhile, lived in luxury.

On 20th June 1791, Louis XVI and his family fled from their palace dressed as servants. The story goes that they were captured near the French border when a shopkeeper recognized the king from his face on a coin.

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