October 19, 2010
ESSAY EXAM 1: QUESTION 3
There were three estates that made up the population of France. The First Estate was made up of the Clergy, the Second of Nobility, and the Third of Commoners. Of these estates, it was the Third that constituted the majority of the population. The commoners of the Third Estate included the bourgeoisie (middle class), the peasants (about 80 percent of the total population of France), and the working poor, who were surprisingly quite influential. It is evident in the way that the population was separated that the monarchy had based its society on wealth and education, but the Third estate was not happy with this setup.
On the eve of the French Revolution, there were hundreds of grievances among the Third Estate. King Louis XVI was bombarded by a list of these grievances, or Cahier de Doleances. All grievances, no matter how absurd some may have seemed, had to be dealt with if the Monarch wanted to prevent the revolution. While Third Estate consisted mostly of peasants and merchants, it was the bourgeoisie that are credited with getting the grievances of the estate recognized.
The bourgeoisie consisted of many wealthy and educated people. Many were lawyers or bankers, and landowners. At this point in history peasants were free, but lived in poverty and had to obey the remaining laws, such as state labor, and payment to the lords, but most of the peasants had owned their own land. The urban or working poor consisted of shopkeepers, and skilled laborers. The working poor were ofter referred to as sans culottes, without pants, or breeches. Some members of the bourgeoisie were allied with the sans culottes, and helped to get their voices heard.
Though there were many grievances, the Third Estate had some very specific problems they wanted fixed. They wanted to eliminate noble and clerical privilege, they wanted protection from the nobility, and they wanted their...
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