Louis XVI and the Financial Crisis of France

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What was the main financial problem faced by Louis XVI upon his ascension to the throne?

An empty treasury due to long years of war and maintaining an extravagant court at Versailles

What effect did the war have on France's debt during Louis XVI's reign?

The war added more than a billion livres to a debt that had already risen to more than 2 billion livres

Why did the French government have to spend an increasing percentage of its budget on interest payments?

Lenders who gave state credit began to charge 10 per cent interest on loans

Which estate in French society bore the burden of paying taxes in the eighteenth century?

Only members of the third estate

What term is usually used to describe the society and institutions of France before 1789?

Old Regime

Study Notes

Financial Crisis of Louis XVI

  • Louis XVI faced a massive debt crisis upon his ascension to the throne, with a large national debt inherited from his predecessors.
  • The debt was exacerbated by France's involvement in the American Revolutionary War, which further increased the national debt.

Debt and Budgetary Constraints

  • The war led to a significant increase in France's debt during Louis XVI's reign.
  • As a result, the French government had to allocate an increasingly large percentage of its budget to interest payments on the debt.

Taxation in 18th-Century France

  • The burden of paying taxes in 18th-century France fell heavily on the Third Estate, which consisted of commoners and the middle class.

Pre-Revolutionary French Society

  • The term "Ancien Régime" is used to describe the society and institutions of France before the French Revolution of 1789.

Explore the reign of Louis XVI, the financial difficulties faced by France, and the role of France in aiding American colonies gain independence from Britain. Learn about the extravagant court at Versailles and the challenges of the Bourbon family of kings.

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