“THE FINANCIAL CRISIS FACING FRANCE BY THE 1780s WAS NOT CREATED PURELY BY KING LOUIS XVI, BUT WAS LARGELY A RESULT OF UNFAIR SOCIAL AND TAXATION SYSTEMS. SO WHEN THE KING TRIED TO SOLVE THE DEBT CRISIS BY CALLING AN ESTATES GENERAL, IT WAS ALMOST INEVITABLE THAT THE THIRD ESTATE WOULD USE IT TO PROTEST AGAINST THEIR UNJUST POSITION IN FRENCH SOCIETY”
Discuss this statement with reference to the France in to 1780s up to the point where the Estates General met.
People in France belonged to one of three social classes or estates.
The state you belonged to decided your power and rights.
1. FIRST ESTATE
1.1 The First Estate was made up of members of the Church – the clergy.
1.2 In 1789 about 130 000 people belonged to this class.
1.3 1% of the people and owned 10% of the land.
Church owned about one tenth of land in France and leaders such as Cardinal Fleury played very important part in the government.
1.4 This was a very influential and powerful class because the Church was very important in an age when most people believed in heaven and hell.
1.5 Not all members of the estate was wealthy because most of the 130 000 clergy were parish priests who were quite poor.
1.6 In return for praying for the King and the people, the First Estate was allowed privileges.
1.7 Its members did not have to pay the taille (the main tax).
1.8 They could not be called up for military service.
1.9 If they broke the law they were tried in their own courts.
2. SECOND ESTATE
2.1 The Second Estate was made up of the nobles of France. 2% of the people and owned 35% of the land.
2.2 In 1789 there were about 400 000 nobles in France.
2.3 The nobles owned about one third of the land.
2.4 Not all members of the Second Estate were rich. Some of the old...