Causes Of The French Revolution


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By the late eighteenth century, France was on the brink of revolution. The reasons had been building up over many years, and mainly concerned the great divide between the nobility and the clergy, and everybody else. The French population was divided into three estates. The First estate was made up of the clergy. It numbered around 100,000 people. The Second estate was made up of the nobility. It numbered around 400,000 people. The Third estate was made up of the bourgeoisie, wage earners, and the peasantry. It made up the majority of the French population.

The first and second estates enjoyed certain privileges that that the third estate did not. Firstly, although they were the richest, they did not have to pay taxes. They were also the only members in society who could hold positions of importance such as Officers in the army. This caused great discontent within the Third Estate.


  • –  Peasants were forced to do military service.
  • –  Peasants could not hunt or fish on nobles’ estates.
  • –  Peasants had to pay taxes to their lord, the king and the Church.
  • –  Peasants had to use the lord’s mill, oven and winepress, and pay for them.
  • –  Peasants made up 90% of the population.


  • –  Nobles had almost complete authority over peasants.
  • –  Nobles did not have to do military service.
  • –  Nobles were exempt from most taxes.
  • –  Nobles collected tolls from people using roads and markets.
  • –  Many nobles and clergy lived in great luxury in chateaux and palaces.

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