The French Revolution; Social Classes

Topics: French Revolution, Louis XVI of France, Feudalism Pages: 3 (879 words) Published: May 27, 2013
Nicolas Fiol
Mr. Wilock
Western Civ
Effect on the three Social Classes
The French Revolution signifies the end of an era - absolutism - and a consequential shift of balance of power as known during feudalism (S10) . As a consequence the old regime -clergy and nobility - comes to an end, the bourgeoisie rises among other reasons because to the money it had accumulated through commerce and industry and the peasants, that initially joined the bourgeoisie to propose liberty, equality and fraternity as a way to improve their freedoms and living conditions, became disappointed and organize a counter revolution. Three main social groups coexisted during the French Revolution: Clergy or “First State”, the Nobility or “Second State” and the bourgeoisie and the peasants or “Third State”. No matter that the “Third State” was the majority of the French population, the right of property was unequally distributed since 10% of the total property was owned by 1% of the population and 97% of the population owned only 55% of the total French land.(S6). Besides, the “Third State” was subject to several taxes benefiting the clergy and the nobility and its members could barely survive because they were also obliged to give for free the products they cultivated from the land. The “First State” wanted to keep the existing “status quo”. That meant to keep its privileges, its possessions and the exemption from taxation. Their reluctance to accept changes generated violence and terror resulting in the beheading of King Louis XVI and many other people (S8). The “Second State” enjoyed privileges that ranged from ownership of big pieces of land to exemption of taxation and specific taxes established on their benefit (S2). The bourgeoisie was the middle class composed of merchants that was the main thrust behind the French Revolution. The bourgeoisie wanted power and privilege commensurate with their place in business and administration. A severe financial crisis of the...
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