How did the French Revolution affect the people?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Before the French Revolution, French society was divided into three "estates": the clergy, the nobility, and the peasants. Most important positions were reserved for the nobility. The state religion was Roman Catholicism, and anyone not a member of the church in good standing was subject to various civil disabilities. 

An important slogan of the French Revolution was "liberté, égalité, fraternité" (liberty, equality, and brotherhood), which emphasizes how the Revolution removed not only the hereditary monarchy but also many class distinctions, allowing people from all ranks of life to participate in government and be educated. 

Another major effect of the French Revolution was the principle of laïcité (secularism) which not only separated state from church but which made secularism a pillar of civil society, and religion a purely private matter. This entailed freedom of religion and an end to many of the privileges enjoyed by the clergy. It meant that you would be free to choose your own religion (or atheism), have a civil marriage, and be educated either in the religious tradition of your choice or in no religion at all.

Personal freedom was also significantly increased after the Revolution, and the nobility could no longer act with impunity towards peasants; all people were equal under the law.