The main feature of pre-revolutionary French society was the alienation of the rulers from the ruled, to what extent is the true for King Louis 16th?

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There was certainly the perception on the part of the French peasantry that such an alienation existed, although the veracity of this statement is problematic at best.

Louis XVI's regime was beset with financial problems, primarily because of the extravagances of his grandfather, Louis XIV, who had seen problems coming. He once famously stated "apres moi, le deluge" (after me the flood.) A shrinking tax base and huge interest payments to creditors had brought France to the brink of bankruptcy. In the meantime, a severe drought and an economic recession had created widespread unemployment at a time when the price of bread multiplied. At one point, one person in eight in Paris was unemployed, and the price of a loaf of bread had increased twenty five hundred per cent. This created desperation on the part of the peasants and working people who blamed the government for their problems. Rumors of a disconnect between themselves and the government and aristocrats soon spread like wildfire. One rumor claimed an aristocratic had said the poor should "eat grass, like my horses." And of course, there was the famous (although probably untrue) story of Marie Antoinette's remark, "let them eat cake."

At a time of desperation and hunger, people grew angry. Louis XVI was not totally disconnected from the needs of his people; however he was preoccupied with preventing the bankruptcy of his government. Even so, he retained his own extravagant lifestyle which further alienated the common people.