They too were divided into three different groups.</li></ul>The bourgeoisie were usually merchants and artisans. They could be rich but had to pay taxes and didn’t get the privileges of the nobles. They were into the Enlightenment.<br />The city workers were poor wage-earners.<br />The peasants made up about 80% of the overall population and paid out nearly half their income in taxes.<br />
you have about 3% of the population owning 30% of the land and paying almost nothing in taxes
The other 97% is largely poor, heavily taxed, and shut out of the political process.
This 3rd estate is being influenced by Enlightenment ideals of democracy, social contracts, and overthrow of monarchs.
Not to mention they saw the success of the Americans overthrowing their English absolute monarch, King George.</li></li></ul><li>
Another part of the problem was the royal family.<br /><ul><li>The king, Louis XVI, while reasonably popular, was terribly indecisive. Modern scholars think he may have suffered from clinical depression.
During his bouts of depression, his queen, Marie Antoinette, took control.
Marie was very unpopular. She was Austrian, flaunted her wealth, and resisted French social etiquette to the point of shocking the elite.
In her defense, however, Marie was married at age 14 just hours after meeting Louis for the first time (Louis was just 16, painfully shy, ate a lot, and their marriage was reportedly not consummated for seven years) and the French etiquette in the royal court was ridiculous with the royals always on display.</li></li></ul><li>
<ul><li>The third estate thus forms itself into the National Assembly, with the power to pass laws for the people.
The Assembly declared itself the power in France.
They got locked out of their chamber, barged into an indoor tennis court and took what has become known as the Tennis Court Oath.
The oath: We swear never to separate ourselves from the National Assembly, and to reassemble wherever circumstances require, until the constitution of the realm is drawn up and fixed upon solid foundations.
Again, revolutionary in that they were declaring power derived from the people and not the king.</li></li></ul><li>
Louis tries to make nice with the National Assembly and even orders the other two estates to join them.<br /><ul><li>Other events take place and the unrest grows.