"Although France in 1785 faced economic difficulties, mostly concerning the equitability of taxation, it was one of the richest and most powerful nations of Europe.[1] The French people also enjoyed more political freedom and a lower incidence of arbitrary punishment than any of other fellow Europeans. However, Louis XVI, his ministers, and the widespread French nobility had become immensely unpopular. This was a consequence of the fact that peasants and, to a lesser extent, the poor and those aspiring to be bourgeoisie, were burdened with ruinously high taxes levied to support a wealthy monarchy, along with aristocrats and their sumptuous, often gluttonous lifestyles.[2]"

The warning signs were there long before heads rolled. 

"1789, January - Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès publishes What is the Third Estate? (Qu'est-ce que le tiers-état ?).

"In the pamphlet, Sieyès argues that the Third Estate – the common people of France – constituted a complete nation in itself and had no need of the "dead weight" of the two other orders, the First and Second Estates of the clergy and aristocracy. Sieyès stated that the people wanted genuine representatives in the Estates-General, equal representation to the other two orders taken together, and votes taken by heads and not by orders. These ideas came to have an immense influence on the course of the French Revolution."

First Estate, clergy;  

Second Estate, aristocracy;

Third Estate, common people. 

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