French Revolution Question #3:
Identify the major social groups in France on the eve of the 1789 Revolution. Assess the extent to which their aspirations were achieved in the period from the meeting of the Estates-General (May 1789) to the declaration of the republic. (September 1792).
During the time of the French Revolution there were three major social groups. The first estate consisted of the clergy, the second estate consisted of the nobility, and the third estate consisted of the bourgeoisie, the sans-culottes or the working class, and the peasants. Each of these estates had a goal to acquire, for the most part, only that of the third estate fulfilled.
Initially the French Revolution’s obligation was to bring about change in France, the first estate, or the clergy had no aspiration to change anything in France. Their main goal was to maintain the status quo. In the years leading up to the Revolution, the clergy held up good place in France. They owned 10% of the land in France, all of which they paid no tax on. The only tax the clergy paid was a small gift tax to the government; therefore it makes sense that they weren’t in favor of the drastic change that occurs throughout their country. The Revolution didn’t work out well for the 1st estate. From the time the Estates General convened up till the Declaration of the Republic, the status of the clergy declined steadily. The aspiration of keeping their place in society was diminished. With the Civil Constitution of the Clergy in 1790, any power or status of the 1st Estate disappeared. Each clergy member was obligated to take an oath to the French Revolutionary government or the National Assembly. A myriad amount of members took the oath however many others fled the country. This oath diminished any influence the Catholic Church had on France. In addition, all Church’s monastic lands were abolished, leaving them with no possessions. Without power and land, the 1st estate was...
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