What inequalities existed in France before the revolution?

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As part of the feudal system of France, the Third Estate, which contained no members of the aristocracy, did not own land.  While many in this political/social division were affluent, they were merchants or lawyers, the majority of whom were Jewish.  And, by law, Jews were forbidden to own land; however, because they were wealthy, they wished to own property.  Also, along with the others of wealth in the bourgeois wished to exercise social and political influence, but they were prohibited from doing so because they were not in the first two Estates.

Added to the grave economic disparities between the Third Estate and the other two, the peasants were starving in 1789 because of their poverty and because of the poor wheat crop, and were forced to eat moldy bread to combat starvation.

krishna-agrawala's profile pic

krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Before the French revolution, which lasted from 1789 to 1799, All the French people were legally divided in three classes called estates. The first estate consist of the clergy, the second estate consisted of the nobles, and the third estate consisted of rest of the people. The third estate included peasants, working class people in the cities and middle class people such as merchants, lawyers and government people. The peasants were very poor. Middle class people were prosperous but because of belonging to the third estate were looked down upon by the members of the first two estates.

The people from the first two estates enjoyed many privileges. Though they had high income they paid very few taxes. The third estate people provided most of the revenue to the government. Middle class people were financially comfortable, but they wished to have more power.

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