How did the First, Second, and Third Estates impact the French Revolution?

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The primary effect of the Revolution was the reaction of the Third Estate. The First and Second Estates did not participate other than as a reaction to the activities of the Third. The First Estate, which represented the Church, was comprised of both peasants and nobility who occupied the higher church offices. The Second Estate, the Nobility, were comprised of the Nobility of the Sword--the traditional nobility--and the Nobility of the Robe, those who had purchased titles from the Crown. Neither of the first two Estates paid taxes, which no only caused resentment among the members of the Third Estate; it also decreased substantially the potential tax base for the Crown. So, their failure--or exemption from paying taxes; and their ability to outvote the Third Estate in the Estates General was their only contribution--a contribution largely made by default.