Why did the financial problems of the French monarchy worsen under Louis XVI?
The key issue is an assessment of the reasons for the deteriorating financial situation in France under Louis XVI
Louis XVI inherited an unstable financial situation which, instead of improving, he actually worsened. This was mainly due to his character, which saw him making some very costly decisions. The financial crisis was characterized by a heavy debt and budget deficit. Waste and extravagance at the royal court, coupled with gross financial mismanagement and corruption played their role in worsening the financial crisis during Louis XVI’s reign. Marie Antoinette
, the queen, was a big financial liability to the state due to her expensive lifestyle.
The system of privilege, in which the rich nobility and clergy
were not taxed, did not
help the financial situation. The King’s failure to stand by his decisions worsened the financial situation. He had appointed able ministers such as Turgot and Necker to stabilize the French finances. In fact “ Louis XVI had the ability to identify the right people for the right jobs, but failed to support them when pressure was put on his by the royal court, especially Marie Antoinette, to dismiss them. This inability to pursue a determined course was a serious character defect which worsened the financial crisis. It was France’s aggressive foreign policy in particular which set the country on its road to bankruptcy. The wars were continued after Louis XIV. Between 1733 and 1783, France waged four wars, which cost, in total, about 4 000 000 lives. All the major wars were financed by enormous loans, until the interest on the debt amounted to more than half of the royal expenses by 1788. it was particularly Louis XVI’s decision to have France participate in the American Revolution which was the last straw since it doubled the national debt.
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