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spread throughout France during 1789 as a direct result of decades of
political decline and widespread discontent. Thinkers of
the Enlightenment argued that governments should promote complete freedom and equality, as opposed to the narrow interests of the social elite.
Their solutions to Frances problems were diverse, ranging from pure
democracy to a more a limited monarchy, but they all agreed on the neccessity of having greater religious and cultural freedom, some type of representative government, and greater equality under the law. Enlightenment
writings became very popular and were spread throughout the urban areas of France and neighbouring countries. The monarchy was already in a state of complete decline aside from these fresh challenges to its rule. Due to the wars of the mid-18th century and French involvement
against Britain during the American Revolution Frances economy was in depression. The aristocracy effectively opposed many moves by the monarchy to reform the taxation system to alleviate the depression.
Finally, various groups in France were effected and influenced by economic and
social change. The nobility wanted wider reaching political rights against
royal power. Middle-class people sought a way to have a say in the government to match
their newly developed commercial role. Due to the declining economic and social conditions the peasant majority was faced with severe poverty, starvation and disease. They sought access to the massive estates of the aristocracy and the church, but even more importantly, an end to feudal due and services.