Before French Revolution, France was governed by an absolute monarchy, and the feudal customs of the estate’s system ruled under the beginning of Louis XVI’s reign. The country was amid an economic downturn, great inequality, and people were unhappy with the government. They were anxious about their future and saw the French Revolution as a way to make change happen.
France Condition Before French Revolution
Ancien Régime and the Estates
The France of the Bourbon dynasty in the 18th century, called the Ancien Régime, was structured into three Estates:
The First Estate was the clergy. The Catholic Church in France owned 10% of the land, collected tithes (a 10% tax on all agricultural production), and had many feudal privileges (such as tax exemption). However, the First Estate was not very powerful because it was divided between the high-ranking bishops (about 100) and the lower-ranking parish priests (about 30,000).
The Second Estate was the Nobility. The nobles were exempt from taxes, had the right to bear arms, and collected rents from the peasants who worked their lands. They also had judicial power over their subjects and the privilege to hunt on royal grounds. The French Nobility consisted of about 400 families. The Nobility – less than 2% of the population, but they owned 25% of the best land in France. They paid very little tax to the king.
The Third Estate was the commoners. The Third Estate was by far the largest; it included everything else not belonging to the clergy or Nobility, such as peasants, artisans, merchants, and workers. The majority of the people in France were commoners. They belong to 80% of the population and paid most of the taxes yet had very few political rights.
The social structure under feudalism is based on hierarchy and privilege, with power concentrated at the top. The king owned all the land in France and granted it to the nobility and clergy in exchange for their loyalty and service. The nobles and clergy then rented out the land to the peasants, who worked it and paid rent.
This system kept the majority of the population poor and powerless while a small elite controlled all the wealth and power.
The Ancien Régime was a system of privilege based on birth. Those born into the First or Second Estate were privileged; those born into the Third Estate were not. This meant that even if a Third Estate Person had money, they could not buy their way into the upper estates.
Moreover, it was challenging for people to move from one estate to another; once they were born into an estate, they were there for life.
This system benefited a tiny minority at the expense of everyone else. The upper classes enjoyed a privileged lifestyle while most people lived in poverty.
The feudal system began to unravel in the late 17th century as a result of some factors:
By the late 1780s, it was clear that the Ancien Régime was in crisis. The country was bankrupt, the king was unpopular, and the people were angry. The situation was made worse by a series of natural disasters, which hit the country hard. In 1789, these problems came to a head, and the French Revolution began.
Not down the Facts of France Pre French Revolution
- The majority of the population in France were peasants who worked on farms owned by nobles.
- Peasants paid high taxes and had minimal rights.
- The Catholic Church was powerful during this time and owned a lot of lands.
- The king had absolute power and made all of the laws.
- There was a growing middle class who were educated and wanted more rights.
- Poor people were often hungry, and many died from diseases.
- People were often executed for crimes such as stealing bread.
- There was a lot of unrest among the people.
These were the some facts and social situation of France Before French Revolution – Pre French Revolution.