logo

The Old Regime

To be ignorant of history is to remain always a child - Cicero
Featured in Macworld - one of the
best history sites on the web

back
exhibit menu
cartoon
The Three Estates

More Information

Culture of Power and the Power of Culture: Old Regime Europe 1660-1789

cover
 

by T. C. Blanning


The Old Regime and the French Revoltion
by John W. Boyer

 cover

a collection of primary source readings about the Old Regime


The Old Regime and the Revolution: Notes on the French Revolution and Napoleon
by Alexis
de Tocqueville

cover

the classic first published in 1856, still the single most important source on the beginnings of the French Revoltion

Before the revolution the French people were divided into 3 groups: the 1st estate consisted of the clergy, the second estate of the nobility and the third estate of the bourgeoisie, urban workers, and peasants. Legally the first two estates enjoyed many privileges, particularly exemption from most taxation.

The first estate, the clergy, consisted of rich and poor.  There were very wealthy abbots, members of the aristocracy who lived in luxury off of wealthy church lands,  and poor parish priests, who lived much like the peasants.

The second estate, the nobility, inherited their titles and their wealth came from the land. Some members of the nobility had little money, but had all the privileges of noble rank. However, most enjoyed both privileges and wealth.

The third estate, the common people, was by far the largest group of people in France. Everyone who was not a member of the first or second estates was a member of the third. It included the wealthy merchants whose wealth rivaled that of the nobility, the doctors and lawyers, the shopkeepers, the urban poor, and the peasants who worked the land. Obviously, a very diverse group.


What is the Third Estate? Abbe Sieyes

Part of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité: The French Revolution a HistoryWiz Exhibit

The French Revolution

The French Revolution Primary Sources

copyright HIstoryWiz 1999-2008


Through Amazon.com
HistoryWiz Books

Your purchase of books or other items through links on this site helps keep this free educational site on the web.