In the eighteenth century, the French society was divided into three estates, namely,
(i) The Clergy;
(ii) The Nobility and
(iii) Peasants , Officials and Businessmen
The population of France rose greatly in the 1780s. This led to a rapid increase in the demand for food grains. Production of grains could not keep pace with the demand. So the price of bread which was the staple diet of the majority rose rapidly. Wages did not keep pace with the rise in prices. So the gap between the poor and the rich widened. Added to this long years of war had drained the financial resources of France.
To meet its regular expenses, King Louis XVI had to increase the taxes. Only members of the third estate had to pay taxes.
On 5 May 1789, Louis XVI called together an assembly of the Estates General to pass proposals for new taxes. The first and second estates sent 300 representatives each, while the third estate sent 600 members.
Members of the third estate demanded that voting now be conducted by the Assembly as a whole, where each member would have one vote. The king rejected this proposal, members of the third estate protested.
The third estate, due to their large number viewed themselves as spokesmen for the whole French nation. They declared themselves a National Assembly and wanted to limit the powers of the monarch.
Dissatisfaction rose among the poor as the price of bread rose due to a severe winter and hoarded supplies. Majority in the 3rd Estate revolted against the King and the Nobility. At the same time, sensing trouble the king ordered troops to move into Paris. On 14 July, 1789 the agitated crowd stormed and destroyed the Bastille, the fortress-prison, leading to the outbreak of revolutionary protest in France.
Describe the circumstances leading to the outbreak of revolutionary protest in France.