Aug 04, · For most people in France, life was full of challenges with many living in poverty and few securing well-paying jobs. The population was also rapidly increasing causing further strain in the resources available. Shortly before the French Revolution, a small percentage of the population comprised of the clergy and a few nobles were known to be quite wealthy and lived a luxurious lifestyle. Oct 22, · Before the French Revolution, France was a feudal country divided into 13 sovereign courts. The country was ruled by a king and governed by 3 estates.
For most people in France, life was full of challenges with many living in poverty and few securing well-paying jobs. The population was also rapidly increasing causing further strain in the resources available.
Shortly before the French Revolution, a small percentage of the population comprised of the clergy and a few nobles were known to be quite wealthy and lived a luxurious lifestyle. However, the majority of the population consisting of peasants was living in abject poverty. People would spend days searching for employment without luck, and when they finally found work, the pay was only enough to feed their families.
Most people lived in the countryside, as the conditions there were a bit bearable as compared to city life. Urban residents generally had a shorter life span since the air was filled with pollution while water was quite dirty. Disease outbreaks were quite rampant leading to many deaths both in the city and the countryside. The huge economic gap between peasants and the elite is what is a cookie and how does it work of the primary reasons why the revolution began.
Peasants were also not afforded equal rights as those who were considered wealthy, and this intensified the discontent of the people of France during that time. More From Reference. What Is Aristocracy?
Causes of the French Revolution
Before the French Revolution, French society was structured on the relics of feudalism, in a system known as the Estates System. The estate to which a person belonged was very important because it determined that person’s rights and status in society. Before the French Revolution, the French society was under monarchy and was divided into three estates: 1st Estate - Clergy 2nd Estate -Nobality 3rd Estate - First Class -Lawyer, Court officials and Doctors. France Before the French Revolution: In , France was consumed by revolution and its old form of government abolished. That government, which had been in place for centuries, had many features.
In , the French Revolution began a transformation of far more than just France, but Europe and then the world. It was the pre-revolutionary makeup of France that held the seeds of the circumstances for revolution, and affected how it was begun, developed, and—depending on what you believe—ended.
Certainly, when the Third Estate and their growing followers swept away centuries of dynastic political tradition, it was the structure of France they were attacking as much as its principles. Pre-revolutionary France was a jigsaw of lands which had been haphazardly aggregated over the preceding centuries, the different laws and institutions of each new addition often kept intact.
The latest addition was the island of Corsica, coming into the French crown's possession in By , France comprised an estimated 28 million people and was divided into provinces of vastly varying size, from the huge Brittany to the tiny Foix. Geography varied greatly from mountainous regions to rolling plains. The nation was also divided into 36 "generalities" for administrative purposes and these, again, varied in size and shape to both each other and the provinces. There were further subdivisions for each level of the church.
Laws also varied. There were thirteen sovereign courts of appeal whose jurisdiction unevenly covered the whole country: the Paris court covered a third of France, the Pav court just its own tiny province.
Further confusion arose with the absence of any universal law beyond that of royal decrees. Instead, the precise codes and rules varied across France, with the Paris region mainly using customary law and the south a written code. Lawyers who specialized in handling the many different layers flourished. Each region also had its own weights and measures, tax, customs, and laws.
These divisions and differences were continued at the level of every town and village. France was a predominantly agricultural nation, even though this agriculture was low in productivity, wasteful, and using out of date methods. An attempt to introduce modern techniques from Britain had not succeeded. Inheritance laws, whereby estates were divided up among all the heirs, had left France divided into many tiny farms; even the large estates were small when compared to other European nations.
The only major region of large-scale farming was around Paris, where the always hungry capital city provided a convenient market. Harvests were critical but fluctuating, causing famine, high prices, and riots. These were home to guilds, workshops, and industry, with workers often traveling from rural areas to urban ones in search of seasonal or permanent work.
Death rates were high. Ports with access to overseas trade flourished, but this maritime capital didn't penetrate far into the rest of France. France was governed by a king who was believed to be appointed by the grace of God; in , this was Louis XVI , crowned on the death of his grandfather Louis XV on May 10, The rest of French society considered itself divided into three groups: the estates.
The First Estate was the clergy, who numbered around , people, owned a tenth of the land, and were due tithes, religious donations of of one-tenth of income from every single person, although the practical applications varied hugely. Clergy were immune from tax and frequently drawn from noble families. They were all part of the Catholic Church, the only official religion in France. The Second Estate was the nobility, numbering around , people.
The nobility were made up of people born into noble families, as well as those who obtained highly sought after government offices that conferred noble status. Nobles were privileged, didn't work, had special courts and tax exemptions, owned the leading positions in court and society—almost all of Louis XIV's ministers were noble—and were even allowed a different, quicker, method of execution.
Although some were enormously rich, many were no better off than the lowest of the French middle classes, possessing little more than a strong lineage and some feudal dues. The majority were peasants who lived in near poverty, but around two million were the middle classes: the bourgeoisie. These had doubled in number between the years of Louis XIV r. The common development of a bourgeoisie family was for one to make a fortune in business or trade and then plow that money into land and education for their children, who joined professions, abandoned the "old" business and lived their lives in comfortable, but not excessive existences, passing their offices down to their own children.
One notable revolutionary, Maximilien Robespierre — , was a third-generation lawyer. One key aspect of bourgeois existence was venal offices, positions of power and wealth within the royal administration which could be purchased and inherited: the entire legal system was comprised of purchasable offices. Demand for these was high and the costs rose ever higher. By the late s, France was one of the world's "great nations.
However, it was with culture that France dominated. With the exception of England, the upper classes across Europe copied French architecture, furniture, fashion, and more while the main language of royal courts and the educated was French.
Journals and pamphlets produced in France were disseminated across Europe, allowing the elites of other nations to read and quickly understand the literature of the French Revolution. By the lead-up to the revolution, a European backlash against this French domination had already begun, with groups of writers arguing that their own national languages and cultures should be pursued instead. Those changes would not occur until the next century. Share Flipboard Email.
Robert Wilde. History Expert. Robert Wilde is a historian who writes about European history. He is the author of the History in an Afternoon textbook series. Updated October 22, Cite this Article Format.
Wilde, Robert. Pre-Revolutionary France. What Is Aristocracy? Definition and Examples. A Beginner's Guide to the French Revolution. French Revolution Timeline: - George Washington's First Cabinet. The Estates General and the French Revolution. The Differences Between Communism and Socialism. The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.