Social Classes In 18th Century France

In late 18th century France, the different levels of social classes played a very significant part in the everyday lives of the French people. It is important to understand these classes to recognize and understand the economic, political, and social problems that were present a that the time. The French citizenry was divided into three vastly different groups. These groups were known as The First Estate, The Second Estate, and the Third Estate. The King was not part of any Estate, as he was his own entity, above anyone else. The First Estate was made up essentially of the clergy and church members, and between them they owned about ten percent of French land. The members of the First Estate did not pay any taxes, however they collected income taxes. These collections went to support the church and the programs it was involved …show more content…
Weak harvests were hurting the economy, and medieval trade restrictions made it difficult to trade with neighboring countries and those across seas. With that being said, the biggest issue that the French government was facing was deep debt from Louis XIV and his warring. At this time, the American Revolution against England was raging. England had the strongest military force in the world, and the young country in American was sorely lacking militia and weapons to be a threat to mighty England. Louis XIV decided to fund the American effort, not because he liked the new world, but because of his hatred for England. He believed that if the Americans were able to defeat the English, France could finally lay claim to valuable English colonies. While he had rationalization for funding the Americans, his contributions ruined France financially and plunged them into deep debt. This left virtually no money for the country to address the class divide and social and economic problems stirring at home. Something had to be done to raise revenue, and higher taxes were an obvious

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