The French Revolution Intro


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The French Revolution Intro

  1. 1. Chapter 3: The French Revolution
  2. 2. French Society in the 17th Century • French society had been a hierarchy since the middle ages – Pyramid. • Top – King, Middle – aristocrats, Bottom – serfs • The Peasants • Farmers owned small plots of land, worked hard, but had little to show for it – brutal life. • Victims of epidemics and famine. • Were forced to work on lord’s property. • No education, couldn’t read
  3. 3. City Life • Paris was the biggest city in France – 600,000. • Many come from the countryside for work. • Most spent half of earnings on food. • Many were poor and lived in slums – many beggars, vagrants, and thieves. • Prosperous merchants and aristocrats displayed their wealth without embarrassment. • The influx of cash into the cities caused inflation • This made flour very expensive – staple diet
  4. 4. The Bourgeoisie • Middle class – important because they invested in new business. • Laws & regs made it difficult to make profits. • Monopolies – guilds (shops) held special privileges by the king to control how goods were produced and cost. • Many tariffs (tax) and tolls (charge to use a road or bridge). • France also lacked infrastructure – roads and canals and gov’t did little about it.
  5. 5. There were two kinds of titles used by French nobles: some were personal ranks, other were titles linked to the fiefs owned, called fiefs de dignité.
  6. 6. Titles: • Duc: possessor of a duchy (duché) and recognized as duke by the king. • Marquis: possessor of a marquesate (marquisat) or merely assumed by ambitious families. • Comte: possessor of a county (comté) or merely assumed by ambitious families. • Vicomte: possessor of a viscounty (vicomté). • Baron: possessor of a barony (baronnie). • Prince: possessor of a lordship styled principality (principauté), a title which was only semi-official and never gave his possessor precedence at the court. Not to be confused with the rank of Prince. • Seigneur: meaning lord as possessor of a lordship, can be the title of non-nobles. Generally referred to by sieur i.e. sir, followed by the name of the fief, as in
  7. 7. Ranks: • Fils de France: son of a king. • Petit-fils de France: grandson of a king. • Prince du Sang (prince of the blood): any legitimate male-line descendant of a king of France[4] . • Prince étranger (Foreign Prince): members of foreign royal or princely families naturalized at the French court, such as the Clèves, Rohan, La Tour d'Auvergne, and Lorraine. • Chevalier: rank assumed only by the most noble families and the possessors of certain high dignities in the court. Member of the orders of chivalry had a title of chevalier, but not a rank of chevalier, which can be confusing. • Écuyer: rank of the vast majority of the nobles. Also called valet or noble homme in certain regions.
  8. 8. Louis XIV: Sun King • Ruled extravagantly for 72 years. • Took Absolute Monarchy to a new level. How? • How was France pushed to the brink of disaster? • Dutch wars depleted treasury • Palace of Versailles ruined the economy • Persecution of Huguenots (protestants) were business people and entrepreneurs
  9. 9. Poor Louis (XVI)
  10. 10. • Louis XVI, king of France, arrived in the wrong historical place at the wrong time and soon found himself overwhelmed by events beyond his control. • Ascending the throne in 1774, Louis inherited a realm driven nearly bankrupt through the opulence (luxuries) of his predecessors Louis XIV and XV.
  11. 11. • After donning the crown, things only got worse. The economy spiraled downward (unemployment in Paris in 1788 is estimated at 50%), crops failed, the price of bread and other food soared. • The people were not happy. • To top it off, Louis had the misfortune to marry a foreigner, the Austrian Marie Antoinette. • The anger of the French people, fueled by xenophobia (an intense fear or dislike of foreign people), targeted Marie as a prime source of their problems.