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The Old Regime Essay

1301 words - 6 pages

: The Old Regime and The Enlightenment

The year 1789 marks big changes in Europe. 1789 was the beginning of the French Revolution and the end of The Old Regime in France. Even though changes and new beginnings were soon to come, The Old Regime wasn’t easy to get rid of. France was considered to be the most powerful, populous and most prosperous country in Europe. Lots of French culture was admired and copied. French was considered the language of aristocracy and royal courts all over the continent. France was also very influential with their palace built by Louis XIV in Versailles, the palace was so beautiful that other countries built their own palaces with the same idea and design. ...view middle of the document...

Nobles who didn’t have much possessions and lived in poverty. Nobles consisted between one and two percent of the population and was also not required to pay taxes. The Third Estate was the remaining 97 percent of the population. The Third Estate was responsible of goods, most French peasants were prosperous compared to other European countries. Most French peasants rented land from landlords either as tenant farmers or sharecroppers. The Third Estate was required to pay all the taxes. The economy during The Old Regime was mostly rural and agricultural and was dominated by subsistence farming where peasants didn’t have enough for their own needs. Any extra production was absorbed by rent, tithes, seigneurial dues and taxes. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, commercial trade was expanding and was encouraged by the royal policy. The monarchy encouraged the development of manufacturing industries to provide goods for the international market, and France developed an international reputation for producing luxury goods such as silk, satin, lace, perfumes and tapestries. The new development of manufacturing and trade led to the growth of a new social class called the bourgeoisie, also known as the middle class and the increase of small merchants and shopkeepers called the petite bourgeoisie.
Religion played an important role during The Old Regime, both as a religion and an institution. France was mostly Roman Catholic, and the religion was part of daily life. Citizens who attended school was taught by priests. The church had a close relationship with the monarchy, French kings were crowned in the cathedral at Reims and the king appointed all bishops and other high officials of the church. The church owned around ten percent of the land in France and made large profits from the properties, sometimes the profits were equaled to half the annual income of the royal government.
France’s structure of state and society was similar to other European countries in the eighteenth century. European monarchies deliberately pursued a policy of the balance of power, a system of system shifting international alliances that prevented any one country from becoming too powerful. Wars were started to maintain the balance of power and the system was challenged by the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century by the ideas of the Enlightenment.
The Old Regime in France was threatened by internal problems but also by new ways of people thinking about society and the world. The Enlightenment was both a movement and a set of ideas, also called the Age of Reason because it emphasized on the power of the human mind to liberate the individual and improve society. Enlightenment philosophers argued that knowledge can only be gained from experience, experiment, and observation. Philosophers encouraged people to use their own critical reasoning to free their minds from prejudice, authority, and oppression by the church or the...

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