Historical processes are not consequence of a single cause, there are always several complex structures involved and the historian must be careful to study all of them in their mutual interconnection. The French Revolution is a particularly complex process because it is a turning point in history and even now there are different points of view about its causes, development and consequences, however it is clear that one of the main short-term causes was the French social structure, the Ancient Regime. The division into three estates with different rights and duties, produced a clear situation of injustice with poverty for the greater part of the people and the extreme wealth for just a few. 1 To what extent were poverty and prosperity causes of the 1789 French Revolution? To a great extent because the prosperity of the bourgeois encouraged the poverty, peasants, to make justice for themselves by making a revolution against the authorities. The first and second estates had several privileges and it produced in the third estate a feeling of resentment, specially among those bourgeois who had education and certain power.2 This cultivated class had been influenced by the ideas of enlightenment and could propose solutions to the injustices. Poverty and prosperity were the concrete conditions that made possible the revolution.
French society had a traditional division in estates: the first estate was represented by the clergy, the upper class of church with bishops and other representatives of the hierarchy. The second estate were the nobles, the aristocracy connected with the monarchy or heirs of ancient families, usually owners of great extensions of land. These two were the richest classes of society, and they also had the political power. They could gain positions in the Church and the Army.3 This situation didn't mean hard duties, on the contrary, they were exempted from taxes and they were not forced to participate in the frequent wars. They enjoyed their...
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