French Revolution

by rjewellikns
Last updated 5 years ago

Social Studies
World History

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French Revolution

The Estates SystemBefore the French Revolution, during the Ancien Regime, French Society was divided into three groups, called estates. The 1st and 2nd estates had many more privilages and poltical power (and generally also money) than the 3rd estate. While the estates system has always existed, the growth of a wealthy middle class in the 3rd estate is going to cause some tension. Also the population growth in France in general will cause a rise in the number of peasants, who make up most of the 3rd Estate.

The First Estate is made up of members of the Catholic Church. This includes high-ranking Cardinals and Bishops, many of whom come from noble familes. It also includes priests and parish priests, many of whom come from the 3rd Estate. The First Estate is exempt from many taxes. They also are allowed to charge a tax, called a tithe, on the population, which is 10% of your yearly income. The First Estate also owns about 10% of the the land of France, even though they only make up about 100,000 people.

Political/Social Causes of French Revolution: Estates System

The Second Estate is going to be made up of the nobility. They will also be exempt from many of the Kings Taxes. They do not have to be in the military. They have the most well-paid jobs, and the most political power, and privilages. Since so many nobles also have family members in the Church, they are very close politically with the First Estate.

The 1st Estate

The 2nd Estate

This cartoon was made before the French Revolution. It shows a member of the 1st Estate, 2nd Estate, and King Louis XVI on the back of a peasant member of the 3rd Estate. The author's purpose is to show the burdens the other estates and King Louis placed on the 3rd Estate. The author has drawn the 3rd Estate as a skinny, starving, chained man that is literally carrying the other estates to show how unfair the Estate System was for the 3rd Estate.

The 3rd EstateThe 3rd Estate makes up 97% of the population of France. They are mostly poor peasant farmers and poor city workers. However, included in the 3rd Estate are wealthy members; landowners, merchants, lawyers, doctors, etc. The wealthy members of society are going to be angry at having fewer political rights and having to pay much more money than the nobility in taxes. The peasants are also heavily taxed, and due to a lack of food from poor harvests, are starving. Despite having different reasons to dislike the estates system, they will work together in the French first.

The 3rd Estate

Estates GeneralThe Estates General is basically France's Parliment, or government. They have not met to discuss laws since 1614. In the Estates General, the 1st Estate is given 300 representative. The 2nd Estate is given 300 representatives. And the 3rd Estate is given 600 representaives. These representatives vote for the rights of the estate they are from. Since the 1st and 2nd estate are very close, politically, they often vote together, totally 600. Therefore, when the 3rd Estate wants to make changes, they often are tied 600 to 600 and so no decision is made. This makes the 3rd Estate very frustrated over time, and this lack of political power will contribute to the French Revolution.



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