U6.6_The_French_Revolution_Begins.pdf - Homework for...

This preview shows page 1 - 2 out of 5 pages.

19 Homework for Tuesday September 13 th Directions : Actively read the article below and answer the questions on the right. Chapter 18 Section 1: The French Revolution Begins Background to the Revolution French society had changed little since medieval times. Feudalism established the privileges and obligations of the three main social classes. Although there were clergy and wealthy landowners in the American colonies, there were no laws giving them special status, unlike the class system in France. This social injustice caused unrest in eighteenth-century France. France's Three Estates Since the Middle Ages, France's population had been divided by law into one of three status groups, or estates. The First Estate consisted of the clergy, the Second Estate the nobles, and the Third Estate everyone else. Thus the Third Estate included anyone from the lowliest peasant to the wealthiest merchant. The First Estate, or clergy, numbered about 130,000 out of a total population of 27 million and owned about 10 percent of the land. The clergy were radically divided. The higher clergy-cardinals, bishops, and heads of monasteries-were from noble families and shared their outlook and interests. The parish priests were often poor and from the class of commoners. The Second Estate, or nobility, numbered about 350,000 and owned about 25 to 30 percent of the land. They played a crucial role in society in the 1700s. They held leading positions in the government, in the military, in the law courts, and in the Roman Catholic Church. Despite controlling most of the wealth of the kingdom, neither the clergy nor the nobles had to pay the taille, France's chief tax. Unlike the First and Second Estates, the Third Estate was divided by vast differences in occupation, level of education, and wealth. Peasants made up 75 to 80 percent of the Third Estate and owned about 35 to 40 percent of the land; middle-class members of the Third Estate owned the rest. At least half of the peasants had little or no land to live on. All peasants owed certain duties to the nobles, which were a holdover from medieval times when serfdom was widespread. For example, a peasant had to pay a fee to grind his flour or press his grapes because the local lord controlled the flour mill and wine press. When the harvest time came, the peasant had to work a certain number of days harvesting the noble's crop. Peasants fiercely resented these duties. Another part of the Third Estate consisted of urban craftspeople, shopkeepers, and workers. These people, too, were struggling to survive. In the 1700s, the price of consumer goods increased much faster than wages, which left these urban groups with decreased buying power. The struggle for survival led many of these people to play an important role in the revolution, especially in Paris.

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture