Before the French Revolution, society in France was divided into three estates, the clergy, the nobility, and the masses. The first two estates had a monopoly on political power and land ownership, and were also exempt from many forms of taxation. When French monarchs attempted to raise money, they often levied various forms of duties on the third estate, those who were least likely to be able to afford them. Great economic inequality was a major source of conflict.
As well as conflicts over power and money, there were religious conflicts. Because the Roman Catholic Church was very much part of the structure of the French state, with the Church controlling great wealth, there was little freedom of religion. The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 led to widespread restrictions on and persecution of Huguenots, or French Protestants. Another area of religious conflict was between the peasants who were compelled to tithe to the Church and the rich abbots and bishops who were beneficiaries of their tithes, while clerics who were not of noble birth labored as poor parish priests and did not benefit from tithes.
The growing class of the bourgeoisie, consisting of wealthy merchants, artisans, professionals, and clerks, people we would now call middle class, wanted a share in the power and wealth of the realm, and yet were restricted from participation in many avenues of advancement by not being members of the hereditary nobility.
Another major conflict was the way many of the aristocrats behaved with impunity, not fearing legal punishment when they badly mistreated peasants, including physical abuse and sexual abuse. Although the peasants individually lacked the clout of the better off bourgeois, some groups of peasants did revolt against their widespread oppression.