What were the grievances of the Third Estate in 1789?
There were three national ‘estates’ in France, the First Estate made up of all clergy ranging from Archbishops to Priests and the Second Estate made up of nobility were the ‘estates’ that did not need to pay any tax at all. The Third Estate was defined negatively as everybody who did not belong to the first two estates including the bourgeoisie, the artisan workers and the peasants. With a total population of 28 million people, the Third Estate was the largest and most complex group of social classes during that time. The bourgeoisie held the most amount of money among the Third Estate, yet they were also taxed the most without having any say in how the money was spent; the artisans provided food and labours for the city; the peasants were the vast majority of workers lived in the country, they had to pay feudal dues including extra payments of money, food or labour to the nobles apart from the original heavy taxation. Therefore their grievances were predominantly against the unfair proportion of taxes that they had to bear, due to which they brought up the agreement of fiscal reform, meanwhile wider dissatisfaction with the privileges of the First and Second Estates was also reflected. However, different groups had their different grievances and actions as well.
To avoid taxation, most of the bourgeoisie aimed to become nobles, consequently the successful ones spent large amount of money to purchase venal public office. Yet by 1780s these positions were in a bidding frenzy which ruined the dream of those ambitious bourgeois. But ultimately, the grievances were originated from the lack of equality in taxation. Moreover, the political grievances represented by the request of voting by head were expressed immediately after the Estates-General, it was rejected by the King’s advisor Necker although he agreed to double the representation of the Third Estate....
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