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The French Revolution I.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Anthony Cantor

The French Revolution I A. – R. Turgot C. de Calonne Noblesse de l’epee Noblesse de la robe hobereaux cahiers Bastille -Why is it that rev.s always “eat” those that initiate them? 1789: archaic kingdom, vestige of feudal, absolutist past, 25 million of France divided into clergy, nobility & the people (3 estates) 1) clergy was least numerous, had monopoly on all clerical occupationsonly 100-150,00 clerics in France (0.5% of pop.) owned 10% of land of France, exempt from taxation, but poorly managed by the clerics, many were still worked by serfs (feudalism still existed among clergy) -huge diversity in wealth, privilege & character (lower clergy: of community they served, peasant stock, great clerics: bishops, abbots were great aristocrats, lax in discipline, lavish in lifestyle, were arrogant, most lived at Versailles as members of court nobility, spent lots on clothes, gambling, etc. looked upon w/ disgust by lower clergy, faithful Catholics began to move away from Church) -“free gifts” by church to royal gov’t was seen as protection money: church property wasn’t to be taxed, but the church knew they couldn’t keep this up, so they’d go to the king & say they’d give him a sum of money so they could remained untaxed & outside jurisdiction of the crown to peasants, middle class who wanted more land, they were angry & realized it was unfair (anticlericalism began to percolate more deeply into Fr. consciousness) 2) gentry & nobility realized land could never be purchased from clerics (would always belong to the church)didn’t like this b/c it worked against their economic interests400,000, v. rich in land (25% of Fr. land, total of 33% owned by nobility)to provide justice, gov’t, military leadership, but after absolutist regimes & warfare changes: nobility was nothing but hereditary officer class (their previous duties meant nothing), so the nobility had finally tamed the old feudal families (w/o local influence, authority or respect)the great nobilities usually lived @ Versailles, visited their estates only seldom, bailiffs (who monitored lands for nobility) treated peasants badly nobility were completely divorced from political/economic/social reality, were seen as oppressors by those who worked their estates -not uniform, coherent class: th at top were the great court nobles, could trace decent back to 9 centuries, only engaged in conspicuous consumption, gambling, their closeness to crown allowed them to save their financeshad intimate access to the king, always could sell child to immensely rich family to lesser nobility for huge dowry that would allow them to keep spending (arrogant, selfish, horrible people, despised anyone not at their level & were hated for this), a.k.a. “thbles of the sword” ”service nobility” of bourgeois origin in 16 century who had purchased offices that carried patent of nobility, largely purchased by those buying a country estates, they were all ambitious & began to affect character & prejudices of ancient nobles (engaged in marriage w/ court nobility), intended to live up to their style of life (often ate away at financial resources)tended to be more enlightened (read Enlightenment thinkers’ new ideas): translated success into power & ensured nobility would have access to wealth b/c they could influence through marriage ”poor nobility” couldn’t afford to travel to Versailles, live according to their rank, but they couldn’t work (to retain their status), lived in decaying manor houses far away & try to squeeze all money from their tenants (detested by everyone: embarrassed nobility, seen as oppressors by tenants)still were free taxation & degree of prestige 3) People of France (95% of pop.) –agricultural labourers, middle-class, peasants, ¾ of peasantry owned some measure of the land they tilled, but these holdings were v. small (never enough property to support entire family, only 30% of Fr. was owned by peasant families, 80% of Fr.)disadvantages of being a peasant: (some were their own fault, but most others were consequence of archaic tax structure) –Fr. peasantry was unreasonably conservative, didn’t experiment w/ farming methods or technology, were extremely frugal, fertility rose considerably (b/c of good health)serious over pop. in countryside but they couldn’t expand their property to support bigger families (own fault) almost entire weight of royal tax fell on them (land, income, poll taxes), had to build a road/bridge for themselves if they needed one, every peasant had to give 10% of produce to parish priest (who required payment for every service), manorial dues (hangovers from feudal age) which were hated b/c peasants got nothing out of it any
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