The Renaissance & Scientific Revolution

Background Information on the Renaissance

Renaissance Society

Women in Renaissance Society

Renaissance Art

The Renaissance Economy

Secular Culture

Background to the Reformation

Price Revolution


Convertible Husbandry
Convertible husbandry was an improvement on the Medieval three-field system. Using this, system, each field would be planted with different things, such as grains, cereals, vegetables and fruits.

Mercantilism is a system which was developed circa 16th Century. Mercantilism utilizes external territories and other things to boost trade and the country's economy.

John Calvin 16th Century
John Calvin was a theologian in French speaking Geneva during the Renaissance period. His views of the Church were largely based upon the concept of predestination, and that good deeds and modesty, as well as faith were important.

Peace of Lodi 1494
The Peace of Lodi was a peaceful time in northern Italy that lasted for approximately 40-50 years, which largely contributed to the development of diplomacy. This agreement involving the cities of Florence, Venice, Milan, the Vatican and Sicily helped achieve a balance of power in the northern area of Italy.

Martin Luther 1483-1546
A former monk, Martin Luther lived in Germany in the late 15th to early 16th centuries. He actively opposed the authority of the Church by posting his 95 Thesis on the door of the cathedral, which stated his beliefs in predestination and charity, and is also the first person to translate the bible into German, so that it would be available to regular people.

Sir Thomas More 1478 - 1535
Thomas More was one of the top humanists in England during the Renaissance. He is most famous for writing the book Utopia, which outlines the perfect society in order to compare it to his own world. Utopia was one of the most influential books of the time, as it contained social models for times to come.


Nicolò Machiavelli 1469 - 1527
Machiavelli is most famous for writing his book The Prince, which gives advice to rulers on how to be shrewd and cynical. In the book, Machiavelli explains that if few people know you too well, then they won't speak out, because the majority of people respect powerful figures.

Erasmus 1466-1536
Erasmus was a Biblical scholar who helped to spread the Humanistic ideas. However, he was against the classical languages. He argued that religion was direct and that the clergy was not necessary in order to communicate with God.

Bartolommeo Della Fonte 1446 - 1513
Bartalommeo Della Fonte was a humanist and a professor of rhetoric at a university in Florence. His most famous teaching is "To punish the wicked, to care for the good, to embellish his native land and to benefit all mankind."

Lorenzo Valla 1407 - 1457
Lorenzo Valla was a humanist in the 15th century who taught a method that helped undermine existing political institutions and practices. Furthermore, he is the author of Declamation Concerning the False Doctrines of Constantine, which explained the faults of the Church.

Humanism 14th - 16th Centuries
Humanism was a predominantly secular movement which promoted intellectual development as a human being. This movement, founded in the 14th century in northern Italy by Petrarch (1301 - 1375) and Boccaccio (1313 - 1375), was based largely on Greco-Roman ideas and remained popular through the late 16th century.

Revolt of the Compi 1378
The revolt of the Compi, or wool workers in Florence, Italy was a result of the rise of rich merchants to power. As the power struggle between the rich and the merchants escalated, the poor were catered to less and less and they revolted.

John Wycliffe 1320 - 1384
Wycliffe lived in England and was one of the reformers of Christianity during the Renaissance prior to Luther. He believed in predestination, that no one could control if they went to heaven or hell. Wycliffe also complained about the immense power of the Church and felt that the clergy were less important than they were. [See also Jan Hus]

Jan Hus 1369 - 1415
Jan Hus was a Bohemian reformer who was partly influenced by the works of John Wycliffe. While his ideas were very similar to those of Wycliffe, he suffered a much harsher fate; he was burned at the stake by the Church as a heretic. [See also John Wycliffe]

In the Renaissance, many countries hired mercenaries to fight their battles for them. Condutieri were the leaders of these armies who would often turn against their original employers because the enemy paid them last.

Carnival Beginning 13th Century
Carnival is a one week event preceding Lent in which the masses of the people can vent their anger without getting in trouble. Mardi Gras completes the festivities, which often excessive drinking, heightened sexual activity and parties.

Capital / Capitalism
Capital is an investment or assets that can be converted into money. Capital is the basis for Capitalism, which allows free enterprise, where private people control companies and the growth of the own assets.

A Dutch trading city in the 17th -18th centuries that was the site of the first synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. It was also the first synagogue to hire a rabbi.

A city in Brazil were thousands of Jews settled in the 17th century. They were able to practice Judaism freely, but when the Portuguese returned in 1654, they terrorized the Jews with the Inquisition, who later fled to Amsterdam. Afterwards, 23 Jews were sent to New Amsterdam, and quietly settled in the society.

Peter Styveson
Peter Styveson was the governor of the New Amsterdam colony who was a Dutch Calvinist. When the 23 Jews arrived from Recifée, he did not want to admit them because of their religion and monetary status, and that the toleration of Jews would lead to the forced toleration of others as well. However, the officials in the Netherlands were outrages, and he quickly let the Jews settle.

Asser Levi / Jacob bar Simpson
Asser Levi was the first Jewish policeman in New York. Jacob bar Simpson was the first Jew in New York.

The Scientific Method
Drastically improved by Francis Bacon, the scientific method was based on trial and error, rather than on the metaphysical ideas of the Middle Ages. The most significant advancement was that thinkers began to observe their surroundings, and they carried out experiments in order to prove or explain natural phenomena.

Mechanical Concept of Nature
The Mechanical Concept of Nature was a belief shared by many modern thinkers that nature had specific rules and that nature was not God's way of expressing himself.

Ptolomy c. 150
Ptolomy was a scientific thinker who wrote the Almagest, a compilation of Hellenistic science and knowledge. He was also the first to theorize about the orbits of the Earth and Mars.

Nicolaus Copernicus 16th Century
Copernicus was a polish astronomer who lived in the early 16th Century who theorized that the Earth revolved around the Sun, rather than the other way around, otherwise known as geocentricism.

Hermes Trismegistus
Hermes Trismegistus was an alleged Egyptian priest who knew the secrets of alchemy, astronomy, and the universe. He also claimed that magic was the basis for all scientific knowledge.

Tycho Brahe 1546
Tycho Brahe compiled the most extensive list ever of astronomical observations and mathematical calculations and put them into a databank, which he passed along to Johannes Kepler.

Johannes Kepler
Johannes Kepler theorized about the movement of the planets. He used the complex calculations of Tycho Brahe to determine the relationships between speed and relative position to the Sun of the planets. He said that the orbits are elliptical and that velocity is not uniform throughout the orbit, but slower when the planet is closer to the Sun, T2:d3.

Galaleo 1564-1642
Galaleo was an astronomer who made telescopes. He used these instruments to observe the moon and draw maps of it. He also discovered 7 of Jupiter's moons, and he postulated that acceleration was equal for all objects, no matter how heavy they were.

Sir Isaac Newton
Newton discovered gravity in addition to several fields of mathematics, including calculus. He believed that experimentation, math, and theory will reconcile what is observed.

Parcelsus 1493-15

A German magician, Paracelsus founded diagnostic medicine. This radical idea involved asking the patient questions to help determine what the problem was.

Vesalius was an anatomist who lived during the scientific revolution. His controversial experiments included the dissection of humans, whom he often knew, and for this, some people like him were accused of being ghouls. He was one of the first to publish a diagram of the human anatomy.

William Harvey 17th Century
William Harvey discovered the role of the blood vessels and the function of the heart.

Robert Boyle 17th Century
Boyle discovered that the volume of a gas is inversely proportional to its pressure, or that P1V1=P2V2.

Giordano Bruno
Bruno claimed to have a higher understanding of the universe. He was a monk, and due to his beliefs, he was burned at the state as a heretic.

Francis Bacon
Bacon was the Lord High Chancellor of Britain. He promoted the use of the scientific method, wrote several books, and might have been the author of several of Shakespeare's plays. This is thought because he was much more educated than Shakespeare was.

The supposed guardian of babies from evil spirits during their first 8 days of life (tylyl in Hebrew).

Shabtai-Zvi 1666
The Shabtai-Zvi proposed many new ideas to Judaism. He proposed the integration of men and women in society and wanted the Torah to be read directly from a book. Then when the Muslim government forced him to choose between Islam or Judaism, he converted. Some of his followers still retained the belief that he was still just beginning the redemption.

Smyrna & Ismir
Smyrna and Ismir were cities in Europe where thousands of Jews began to follow the teachings of Shabtai-Zvi in the mid 17th century.

Jacob Frank c. 1750
Jacob Frank claimed to be a reincarnation of the Shabtai-Zvi. He eventually led hundreds of his Jewish followers to convert to Christianity.

The Enlightenment 17th Century - 1789
The Enlightenment was a period that lasted from about the late 17th century through the late 18th century. During this period, people began to use reason and logic in all situations and began believing in revealed knowledge through religion. Also, an increasing number of people became literate and there was a move towards toleration, which often benefit Jews.

Cossack Rebellion 1648-1649
Led by Chemilnitzky, the Cossacks of Poland rebelled against the government, while in the process, managing to destroy 1/2 of the Jewish population in Poland. Before the uprising, the Jews were granted security, the right to a fair judgment, and other rights.

René Descartes
Descartes was the inventor of the graph who believed in God's existence. He is noted for the quote "I think, therefore I am."

Solipsism is a concept where one thinks that other things exist only because one imagines them. Whenever one stops to imagine something, it ceases to exist.

Benedict Spinoza
Spinoza is known as the first modern Jew. He was one of the first not to emphasize religion in his daily life. He was also less observant than other Jews of the time, he was spiritually aware, but he still retained his connection to Judaism.

R' Menashe Ben Israel
Menashe Ben Israel argued that the Jews helped the economy and that they were peaceful people. He also said that the Jews must be admitted to all countries of the world, especially England.

Rationalism, a school of thought that arose in France during the Enlightenment, applied reason to human institutions. The philosophs, as they were known, often gathered in the salons of rich nobles and had intellectual discussions, and often forming secret societies.

John Locke
Locke was one of the most important political thinkers. His idea that power originated in the people, that an elected government can be overthrown. His Two Treatises of Government and the Book on Epistemology are directly quoted in the United States' Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

Thomas Hobbs
Hobbs was a political thinker that had ideas similar to Locke's. However, he believed that once the people elected a leader, he remained their leader, and that the population had to be loyal to him.

Glückel of Hameln
Glückel was a writer in the 16th century. She was a witness to the Shabtai Zvi, and her memoirs revealed her opinion of the events.

Kabbalah Ma'asit (practical Kabbalah)
Also known as Lurianic Kabbalah, which held that at the moment of creation, sparkles of holiness became entrapped in objects on earth, and that the connection between God and people is reciprocal. Isaac Luria, who claimed to be the messiah, founded this type of kabbalah.

With the Renaissance came secularism, a new outlook which basically said that religion shouldn’t interfere with living life to its fullest. They were not atheists.

Another Renaissance philosophy, individualism stated that people should assert their own personalities, express their feelings and demonstrate their unique talents. This applied only to few, and disregarded the masses.

The prevalent philosophy of the Renaissance, humanism was an "educational and cultural program based on the study of ancient Greek and Roman literature." They did not seek these text to replace Christian texts, rather for the appreciation of ancient texts. "Italian humanists read classical learning to nourish their new interest in a worldly life." Humanists restored every Roman text that could be found, and tackled moral problems in an essentially secular manner.

Petrarch 1304-1375
Petrarch and Boccaccio (1446-1513), Petrarch founded classical humanistic thought. He advanced humanistic thought by encouraging his students to learn Greek and Roman. He was particularly drawn to Cicero, the master of rhetoric.

According to humanism, people were completely subject to God’s will, and it was impossible and discouraged to try to attain excellence. People were capable of excellence and it was their duty to achieve it.

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola 1463-1494
Della Mirandola said that man has the freedom to sheep his own life, in his book Oration on the Dignity of Man. He also said that through his own exertions, man can come to understand and control nature. Man was magus, the magician.

Medieval scholasticism failed because its terms and Latin usage were barbaric, and it did not even provide useful knowledge. The humanists obliterated the Christian view that history is God’s "playpen," and said that human actions and human history determined the past. History alternated between times of "darkness" and times of "light." Even though the humanist valued Greco-Roman tradition, they felt that they might even pass the Romans.

Lorenzo Valla c 1407-1457
A classicist, Valla wrote the very important Declamation Concerning the False Decretals of Constantine. This book was regarding the papal claim that they controlled all of Western Europe, because they had a document from the fourth century bestowing all of the land of the Western Empire. Valla proved that the document was a forgery when he pointed out that the language at certain points was unknown at Constantine’s time.

Nicolo Machiavelli 1469-1527
An author, his most famous work was The Prince. He made very fundamental contributions to political theory by stating that politics requires force, as well as virtue. He also wrote that the prince had to be both wily and virtuous, and that even when he wasn’t he had to make the people believe he was virtuous.

The signature of the Renaissance was its art. It stressed proportion, balance, harmony, and realism. While medieval art portrayed spiritual aspiration, Renaissance art portrays realism, and natural beauty.

Giotto c 1276-1337
Giotto created figures using Chiaroscuro, alterations of light and shade. He also pioneered in perspective art.

He completed the perspective revolution by figuring out the mathematical formulas for perspective.

Donatello 1386-1441
A famous sculptor, Donatello studied anatomy for realism in his figures.

Jan Van Eyck c 1390-1441
A Belgian painter, Van Eyck painted only for accuracy, and not for appearance. He developed oil-base paint, as opposed to egg base.

Botticelli c 1444-1510
A famous Florentine painter, he was one of the first to incorporate structure into the realistic paintings of the past. One of his finest works was "The Birth Of Venus."

Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519
A painter, scientist, engineer, anatomist, and inventor, da Vinci painted such works as The Last Supper, St. John, and, The Mona Lisa.

Michaelangelo 1475-1564
Michaelangelo created artistic harmony by mastering anatomy and drawing. He was a brilliant sculptor, who sculpted David and Moses.

Raphael 1483-1520
The master painter, Raphael’s structure and design, made the beauty of his "Madonna" series some of the most notable art of the period.

Martin Luther 1483-1546
A Greek monk, Luther rejected the church’s claim to be the only vehicle for human salvation and defied the pope’s right to excommunicate any Christian.

By the late middle Ages, the church entered a time of crisis. Theologians and politicians rejected the pope’s claim to supremacy over kings. The church was corrupt, and many called for a council to run the church, rather than a pope. Before Luther, there were two other major reformers

John Wycliffe c 1320-1384
A master student, Wycliffe argued that the Church did not control people’s destiny. He said that salvation came only to those who posses faith, a gift given by God, and not the church. This made the clergy less important. He said that all true believers were equal and he translated the bible into English. He received support from nobility, who hated the church’s economic power. His attempt to reform the church failed, however, largely due to the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381.

Jan Hus c 1369-1415
Burned at the stake by the church, Hus believed that the Holy Roman Empire should be disbanded, and Bohemia should be independent. Because of Wycliffe and Hus, many people, called mystics, sought a personal relationship with God.

The Lutheran Reformation
As a monk, Luther feared damnation, and even when he completed the sacraments, he still felt the burdens of his sins. After reading the bible, he concluded that no amount of good works would bring salvation, and that through reading the bible, any Christian could obtain all of the answers. The starting point of the reformation was an attack on the church’s policy of selling indulgences. He relied on faith as the only means of salvation. He challenged the church’s ability to save souls, and guard the gates of heaven. In his paper, The Ninety-Five Theses, he wrote that people must repent, and trust God’s mercy. He also said that anyone could read the bible without assistance of the clergy, and that the clergy were on the same level as everyone else. In the eyes of Luther, hope laid only in a personal relationship between the individual and God.

A French theologan named John Calvin stated that all people were damned or blessed from the beginning of life, and Calvinism became the most prevailing form of Protestantism.

When Luther was excommunicated in 1520, it was too late, Luther had many followers, who believed that the pope was Antichrist. When Luther received his excommunication, he burned it. He proclaimed that the Church was "the most lawless den of robbers, the most shameless of all brothels, the very kingdom of sin, death, and hell." He appealed to the German king to cast off their allegiance to the pope, and that worked, to an extent. The followers of Luther became known as Protestants.

Although Luther reformed religion, and rebelled against the church; Luther believed that Christians should be obedient citizens, and rarely challenged royal authority. In the early sixteenth century, there was a major population boom in Europe, causing prices to shoot through the roof.

The Peasants’ Revolt of 1524
In Germany, 300,000 peasants attacked their masters. Without a doubt, Luther had inspired them, but in 1525, the peasants were defeated.

"Cuius Regio, Eius Religio"
"Whoever rules, his religion" was a thought expressed by the Peace of Ausburg in 1555, causing Germany to be mostly protestant, rather than traditional Catholicism.

Ulrich Zwingli
A priest from Zurich, Switzerland, Zwingli preached a form of Christianity close to that of Luther’s, but claimed he developed his ideas independently. One of his major changes was the alteration of the communion services.

John Calvin 1509-1564
A French scholar and theologian, impressed by Luther’s ideas, and trained as a humanist, Calvin spread Luther’s beliefs and became a preacher of the reformation. Calvin believed in absolute faith in God, and God’s confidence in us. He also followed the Doctrine of Predestination which stated that some people are saved, and others damned at birth. He also felt that Protestants should follow legitimate political authority. He left France to establish a church in the Protestant country of Switzerland, and with Guillaume Farel, he led a Protestant congregation in Geneva. In Geneva, there was an "Unofficial Theocracy," where Protestant elders were the social leaders. Calvin’s most well known book, Institutes of the Christian Religion, published in 1536, became the textbook of "Calvinism," the dominating religion of Europe.

After 1534, Protestantism was Illegal in France, however, its persecution was half-hearted. The French Calvinists, called Huguenots, became a well organized, albeit "underground," movement, which had churches, usually under noble protection. In 1559, the Huguenots had enough power to challenge their opposition, the Guise family and King Henry II, and in 1562 civil war erupted between Catholics and Protestants. After about 30 years of fighting, the Catholics won, but barely.

Henry of Navarre
King of France after the civil war, Henry established partial tolerance for Protestants. In 1598 he issued the Edict of Nantes, which established true religious toleration. The edict was revoked in 1685 by Henry IV.

Henry VIII 1509-1547
King of England, Henry removed the English church from papal jurisdiction because the pope refused to grant him a divorce from his wife, who Henry thought was unable to produce a mail heir. When the English church was formed, Henry placed himself at the top, and he swallowed the monasteries and nunneries for their wealth.

In Italy, where the Inquisition was powerful, the Reformation struggled and failed to convert Catholics. The Italian inquisition was supported by both the papacy and the population, and the humanistic reformation was never popular in Italy anyway.

In Spain, Lutheran writings circulated, but the authorities stamped out Protestantism. The church was heavily influential in Spain, responsible for a quarter of the jobs, and half of the property.

Reformers in Hungary, such as Mathias Biro and Stephen Kis allied with Luther in Wittenberg and preached Lutheranism to Hungarians. As the number of conversions grew, the Catholic and Turkish officials became alarmed and imprisoned Kis and Biro, and fought the reformation at every turn. They did convert people, but Protestantism did not hit Hungary again until the seventeenth century.

In Poland Bohemia and Lithuania, Papal control had always been problematic. Peter Waldo, a 12th century heretic had followers in Poland, but the progress of the Reformation was the most shocking. In Poland, many people embraced Lutheranism, including most of the nobility.

The largest group in the Radical Reformation prior to 1950, the Anabaptists felt that the first baptism one received did not count, and, that one must prepare for the Second Coming of Christ. Radicals in every sense of the word, the Anabaptists took the city of Munster in Westphalia, near Germany. They seized the property of non-believers, burned all books except for the Bible and practiced polygamy, while proclaiming the Day of Judgement was coming. They were condemned from all sides, and defeated by an army lead by the Lutheran prince Phillip of Hesse.

The church could never have predicted the force of the Protestant Reformation, especially the noble following. One group which tried to peacefully regain followers to Christianity were the Jesuits.

The Jesuits
Founded in 1534, and known as the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits became the backbone of the Counter Reformation in southern and Western Europe. The Jesuits "strove to bypass local corruption and appealed to the papacy to lead a truly international movement to revive Christian universalism." They pursued positions as confessors to Princes in hopes to revive religion based on ceremony, religion and the power of the priest to forgive. They even sought to develop a system in which "small sins" were forgiven. It became unclear whether or not the Jesuits were the true voice of a reformed church, or used the church to gain power.

From 1450 to 1750, there was a period of overseas exploration and economic expansion in Europe. The population of Western Europe increased heavily between 1450 and 1600, soon, the land ran out, causing the need for more land beyond Europe. New routes were forged between Europe and China, which had always traded heavily, albeit through an intermediary, which drove up prices. Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain sought new land for power purposes.

Sailing Vessels
The expansion was greatly aided by sailboats, which replaced boats which necessitated many people paddling it.

Prince Henry the Navigator 1394-1460
Named by English writers, Prince Henry, the prince of Portugal, encouraged a revival of the crusades "to which Portugal owed its existence as a Christian state."

In the 1400s, Portugal expanded into the Atlantic islands. By 1475, they had a formidable economy based on sugar, slaves, and gold.

Christopher Columbus c 1492
After winning the support of Queen Isabella, he landed on an Island in the Caribbean, and, trying to find a route to the west, he landed on North America.

The Spaniards were lured to the New World by the abundance of Gold and Silver to be found there.

The Price Revolution
The Expansion brought on another revolution, unprecedented inflation in what was to be called the price revolution. Occurring during the 16th century, cereal and grain prices rose to astronomical points. The best explanation of the price revolution was "Too many people with too much money chasing too few goods."

"Food prices spurred ambitious farmers to take advantage of the situation" and try to invent aids in mass farming.

Enclosure was the pursuit to change manorial agriculture. The two main principals of Enclosure were the abolishment of the open-field system, and the transition from copyhold to leasehold. The open-field system stated that each peasant was entitled to a strip of land. "Whereas copyhold was heritable and fixed (price), leasehold was not. When a lease came up for renewal, the landlord could raise the rent beyond the tenant’s capacity to repay."

A yeoman was a prosperous British farmer. Yeomen tended to rent land, and produced a (marketable) surplus.

Convertible Husbandry
Convertible Husbandry was a farming technique which replaced the three-field system. It involved planting soil depleting grains for a few years, then planting soil restoring legumes, then using the field for grazing, and gaining the effects of the soil-enriching manure. Another effect of the price revolution was the expansion of trade and industry

The Putting-Out System
The Putting-Out System involved a merchant buying raw materials, and taking advantage of local peasants to process those materials for low wages. The putting-out system was an example of the beginning of capitalism.

Double-Entry Bookkeeping
A new banking operation, double-entry bookkeeping involved entering data under "assets" or "debts."

Maritime Insurance
A regular practice, maritime insurance involved the paying of a premium to an insurer before maritime. If the ship got damaged, an amount (much greater than the premium) was paid to the policyholder.

Joint-Stock Companies
Joint-Stock Companies are companies owned by people making many small investments. "These companies made possible the accumulation of capital needed for large-scale operations."

Capitalism flourished during this period. Capitalism involved the pursuit of capital, or money in excess of what was needed to live.

Free Enterprise
The system of free enterprise involved the ability of people to obey the law of supply and demand.

In the 17th century, population began to decline sharply. Demand continued to outrun supply, and wages fell. Most people could not even buy bread. By the second quarter, population grew again, this time however; food supply kept with the population growth. "The new economy produced a situation in which more and more people had more and more money to spend on or invest in things other than food–namely industry and its products."

Old Regime
The Old Regime, or ancien régime, was the absolute monarchy system in place in France before the Revolution. It was comprised of three estates. This regime lasted until 1789 at which it was overthrown by the revolutionary forces and replaced by a constitutional monarchy.

First Estate
The First Estate was the highest class under the Old Regime, and it was comprised mainly of the rich nobles, high officials of the Church, and other high ranking officials of the State. This class was only a small percentage of the French people, while it controlled most of the wealth.

Second Estate
The Second Estate was also a minority of the population of France, which was made up of the well to do merchants, tradesmen and craftsmen. The Second Estate is also known as the bourgeoisie.

Third Estate
The Third Estate was the lowest class in the Old Regime and it was made of the peasants and farmers who were extremely poor and did not own vast amounts of land or property.

Nobles of the Sword & Nobles of the Robe
Nobles of the Sword were descendants of the knights who fought for the king's court in the medieval period, whereas Nobles of the Robe were people who were raised to the importance of nobles by the king.

Urban Laborers
Urban laborers were those who worked in small factories and other establishments, and who earned wages. These people lived in the cities and were burdened by the increased cost of living, thereby causing them to struggle to survive.

Peasants' Grievances
The peasants were outraged by the fact that the bourgeoisie and the nobles were not paying their fare share of taxes. This was especially important, because the amount of money collected from the peasants was not nearly sufficient to cover the country's expenses. Furthermore, the peasants were struggling to stay alive, as there was a shortage of food and the cost of living during the late 18th century rose drastically, while earnings were still relatively low.

Administrative Disorder
By the late 1700's, the government of France had become very inefficient and unorganized. Taxes were not collected properly, and tax collectors often stole much of the money which they collected. The funds that did reach the government were used unwisely to fund the Seven Years War (1756-1763) and other wars which were fought at the time. Furthermore, the government allowed rich people to purchase titles of nobility, and those who held government positions were most often incompetent.

To remonstrate was the right of the parliament not to register the edicts of the King if they chose not to. This contributed to the decline of the monarch, as it was an unorganized practice. The right to remonstrate lessened the power of the king because he could not be as affective.

lit de justice
The king could override the parliament's decision to remonstrate, but this had to occur through a ceremony known as the lit de justice. Sometimes the parliament would refuse to comply, and the king used force. This was unusual, however, as the use of such power was damaging to the king politically.

Estates General 1789
The Estates General was the council that approved new taxes on the people of France. In 1788 Louis XVI was forced to call for a meeting of the representative governmental body in order to impose new taxes on France, because of the financial crisis at hand. This was the first gathering of the assembly in 175 years. Once in session, the Estates-General assumed the powers of government.

Jacobins 1789
The Jacobins were a radical French political club that played a controlling part in the French Revolution. It was founded in 1789 as the Society of Friends of the Constitution. The club met in a former Jacobin monastery in Paris, and turned against any form of royal rule.