What Were the Causes of the French Revolution of 1848?

The causes of the French Revolution of 1848 were both economic and political. The strongest contributing factor was political contentions between the working and bourgeois classes of France.

The French Revolution of 1848 spanned a total of five months and several political upheavals, including what is called the "Summer Insurrection." The 1848 Revolution was preceded by two disastrous economic failures: a potato blight in 1845 and a failed wheat harvest in 1846. Grain prices doubled after the 1846 wheat harvest, and as a result, tax and food riots, as well as begging and theft, increased.

Politically, the French working class initiated protesting against the bourgeoisie's attempted liberal reforms. In 1847, the year prior, the bourgeoisie had called for liberal reforms that would expand the vote to 200,000 middle-class citizens. Contentions culminated on February 22, 1848, when the working class took to the streets in protest and clashed with the fourteenth regiment. This led to the declaration of the Second Republic of France. Gradually, the protests of a revolutionary, radical working class diminished and folded over to the use of arms and force. In the months following, armed force characterized the political struggle between the French working and bourgeois classes. The 1848 Revolution is popularly depicted in French classical author Victor Hugo's novel "Les Miserables."