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Identify The Major Social Groups In France On The Eve Of The 1789 Revolution

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The major social groups in France on the eve of the revolution consisted of the first estate, second estate, and the third estate. The first estate was made up of the clergy, the second estate was made up of the nobility, and the third estate was made up of the commoners. The commoners’ aspiration was to try and gain more power and freedom while the clergy and the nobility were trying the hold on to their power and not lose any.

The first estate, which was made up of the clergy, had the aspiration to hold onto the power that they had and not to lose it. The clergy couldn’t do this and they lost some of it. This was due to the changes in religious life made by the National Assembly. One of the things that happened was religious freedom was granted to French Jews and Protestants. The church also lost its property. This made a big impact on the church, all of the property was nationalized and monasteries were abolished. The church’s land, which was acquired by the government, was used as collateral for a new paper currency. The land was then sold to speculators and the rich in large blocks, the peasants also bought some of the land when it was divided smaller. The National Assembly was only interested in the church for it’s land so it could be used for the good of the state. The national church that was established had priests chosen by voters and they were required by the National Assembly to take a loyalty oath to the government.

The second estate, which was made up of nobles, tried to hold onto its power like the first estate. The nobility lost a lot of its power and advantages over the peasants. Equality in taxation was imposed and the nobility lost its privilege to not pay taxes. The peasants were no longer confined to serfdom, nobles lost their exclusive hunting rights, their fees for justice, village monopolies, and the right to make peasants work on the roads along with a bunch of other things the nobility made the peasants do. The peasants never had to pay their feudal dues again and they weren’t going to let up their newfound freedom.

The third estate, which consisted of the peasants, made huge gains while the first and second estates lost their power and privileges. They gained equality in taxes and were relieved of all of their feudal dues. Another thing they gained which was very important was the Declaration of the Rights of Man. The declaration stated that all men were born free and were equal in rights. It also said that every man was free until they were proven guilty and mankind’s natural rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression. This declaration granted freedom of expression and thoughts so people could speak publicly about how they felt. These advances in the peasant’s rights and freedoms were a huge step for them and was what they wanted.

In conclusion, only one socials group’s aspirations were met, the third estate, the peasants. The first and the second estate lost a large amount of their power and special privileges, which kept them so much above the third estate. The nobility and clergy couldn’t hold on to this power very well and long some of it. Where the first and second estates lost their privileges and power the third estate gained.

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