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date: 19 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The reassessment of the driving forces leading to the French Revolution provoked the rejection of the traditional Marxist interpretation according to which the Revolution was led by an emerging capitalistic bourgeoisie strengthened by long-term industrial and trade growth, and the emergence of interpretations based on political and ideological developments. This chapter argues that demography and economy still offer important keys to understand the origins of the Revolution if they are embedded within a broader analysis, taking social, cultural, and political aspects into account. In stressing the escalation of social tensions provoked by an unequal redistribution of resources, analysis of the demographic and economic developments highlight the background against which the convergence of political and short-term subsistence crises pushed rural and urban masses to revolt in 1789. Without their actions, the political revolution led by a majority of the representatives who met at the Estates-General in 1789 would have been repressed.

Keywords: French Revolution, France, economy, demography, eighteenth-century growth, social tensions, crop failure, agriculture, industry, trade

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