History Essay

1141 Words Mar 28th, 2016 5 Pages
The Sole Body Of The Nation
Primary Source Essay, Document #3 “What is the Third Estate?”
Ana Fajardo Acosta
York College
History 100

The Sole Body of The Nation
“He is a peasant, he is a doctor and him over there, he is a merchant, they are all part of The Third Estate, and I know, it doesn't make any sense to me either," he said after he looked at my confused face. Before the revolution, French society was divided into three estates or orders. The Third Estate was by far the largest of these, “containing around 27 million people or 98 percent of the nation” (Llewellyn & Thompson 2016). The Third Estate included every French citizen who did not possess a noble title and this one was marked by its diversity because of the many
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While the Second Estate was only 1% of the total population of France, the Third Estate was 98% and had none of the rights and privileges of the other two estates. This privileged groups—the nobility and the clergy—governed France while the productive classes were taxed heavily to pay for foreign wars, court extravagance, and a rising national debt. For the most part, peasants were small landholders or tenant farmers, subject to feudal dues, and other impositions.

In addition to the economic and social difficulties the Third State was being under minded in every type of way, even intellectually. The second state believed “We [the nobility], from birth, need only to rest, whereas commoners are forced to subject themselves to work” (Tackett, 1989). Commoners (another name for the Third Estate people) made their living in towns and cities as either skilled artisans or unskilled workers. The peasants and urban workers were politically invisible to the bourgeoisie – just as the bourgeoisie itself was politically invisible to the “Ancien Régime”. Historians disagree in evaluating the factors that brought about the Revolution. To some extent, at least, it came not because France was backward, but because the country's economic and intellectual development was not matched by the social and political change.

France was reaching a chaotic financial crisis forced the King to convene the Estates General that is when

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