French Nobility

Topics: Nobility, Estates of the realm, Aristocracy Pages: 3 (1137 words) Published: October 1, 2010
French Nobility
The French Nobility has been around since the beginning of the Roman Empire. Similar to the Romans, the French organized their state around the nobility and the clergy, not taking into account the massive amount of commoners. The Third Estate was finally created centuries later to help bring order and give common people their own place within society. Charles Loyseau and Isabelle de Charriere are two prime sources that compare French nobility during the 17th and 18th century, leading up to the French Revolution. Charles Loyseau, both a jurist and legal scholar evaluates French society in his writing A Treatise on Orders. In the writing of his treatise, Loyseau describes the “social anatomy of France” in an idealized way, which remained precise until the French Revolution (16). Isabelle de Charriere, a noblewoman from Switzerland writes a critical satire about the French nobility through the eyes of the fictitious character Julia. Written a century later than Loyseau in 1763, Charriere brings to light the changing position of the ever-growing nobility class. Through the literature of Loyseau and Charriere the reader is able to gain a better understanding of the progression of change in the French nobility.

Within the two writings of Loyseau and Charriere, they can both be viewed as critical to the French nobility of the seventeenth and eighteenth century. In A treatise on Orders Charles Loyseau evaluates France’s political order of the three Estates and how each society functions within itself. From the beginning, Loyseau criticizes that the orders were established purely as customs and are indeed not laws that have been laid out, “although their order is changeable and subject to vicissitude, on account of the particular liberty that God has given them for good and for evil, they nevertheless cannot exist without order” (17). Order gives the whole French population a purpose within society and hierarchical position, which can be...
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