Chapter 6 Section 1 pp. 166-170 Life in France in 1789 • On April 28, 1789, unrest exploded at a Paris wallpaper factory. A rumor had spread that the factory owner was planning to cut wages even though bread prices were soaring. Enraged workers vandalized the owner’s home. Later, they stopped some nobles returning from an afternoon at the racetrack. They forced the noble to should: “Long live the third estate [the common people]”. • Riots like these did not worry most nobles. They knew that France faced a severe economic crisis but thought that financial reforms would ease the problem. Then, rioters would be hanged, as they deserved. • The nobles were wrong. The crisis went deeper than government finances. Reform would not be enough. By July, the hungry, unemployed, and poorly paid people of Paris had taken up arms. Their actions would push events further and faster than anyone could have foreseen. The Old Regime • Old Order *Ancien Regime* – Everyone in France Belonged to 3 estates [classes] First Estate Clergy Second Estate Nobility Third Estate Bourgeoisie Peasants The Clergy • The First Estate “the Church” once exerted great influence all over Europe • In France in the late 1800s the Church still had great wealth and privilege. • Owned about 10% of land • Collected tithes • And paid no direct taxes • Most Bishops and Cardinals lived a very high class life, although most parish priests were poor • Some services provided by the First Estate • Ran schools • Set up and ran Hospitals • Ran Orphanages • Some Clergy rejected enlightenment ideas. The Nobles • Second Estate “The Nobility” • They had top jobs in government, the army, the courts, and the Church. • Although they had lost much power during the rule of Louis XIV they were still the highest class of people in France – Although many lived far from the “splendor” of Versailles • Most disliked absolutism and the threats it brought to their traditional privileges. – Most worried about their freedom from paying taxes The Third Estate • “The People” in 1789 the Third Estate numbered around 27 million which was 98% of the population. • The top of the group were the Bourgeoisie- middle class. It included bankers, merchants, lawyers, doctors, journalists, professors, skilled artisans, and manufacturers. • 9 out of 10 people in France were peasants. Some owned land and hired laborers but MOST were tenant farmers and day laborers • The poorest were city workers. Journeymen, apprentices, and industrial workers made little money. Some became servants, or street vendors but many were unemployed and became beggars or criminals. Discontent [within the estates] • All of the Third Estate disliked the system in France • Even the wealthiest of this Estate could not “buy” the best jobs, because they were reserved for the Nobility. • Urban workers felt the rise in any costs, especially food, which brought about the threat of starvation • The Third Estate was the only Estate to pay taxes • Although they were “free” they still had duties.. The Corvee was unpaid labor to repair roads and bridges • In the late 1800s the Estate was angered when old manor dues were re-imposed, as well as the continuing right of only the Second Estate to hunt [anything] • Throughout France the Third Estate called for the Economic Troubles • Money troubles in France added to the turmoil between Estates • Years of Deficit Spending- or spending more than you take in, led to a great financial hardships in the French government. The Burden of Debt • King Louis XIV spent lavishly • The Seven Years War and the American Revolution cost millions • The government borrowed lots of money, by 1789 half of its tax collections went towards the interest of this debt. • To solve the problem taxes must go up, spending must come down • The First and Second Estates resisted any attempts to collect taxes on them Poor Harvests • In the 1780s bad harvests made prices rise and caused many peasants to fear starvation • This caused great anger among the Third Estate – People rioted demanding bread – Peasants attacked manor houses in the country – All were looking for food Failure of Reform • After the lavish spending of Louis XIV, Louis XV [ruled 1715-1774 great grandson] pursued pleasure before serious business • “After us the DELUGE” • Louis XVI meant well but was a weak monarch • Did appoint Jacques Necker as his financial advisor, Necker proposed cutting spending, reforming government, lowering tariffs, and taxes on the Nobles and Clergy • Nobles forced Louis XVI to dismiss Necker • Nobles forced the King to call the Estates General, hadn’t been used in 175 years Louis XVI Calls the Estates General • As 1788 came to a close, France tottered on the verge of bankruptcy • Bread riots spread, and Nobles were denouncing royal tyranny • A confused Louis XVI finally summoned the Estates General to meet at Versailles in 1789 The Cahiers • Before the meeting of the Estates General King Louis XVI had all three estates create Cahiers- or notebooks listing their grievances. • • • • Many called for fairer taxes Freedom of the Press Regular meetings of the Estates General Some called for lower prices and the right to kill pests [rabbits and such] • Servant girls in one town demanded the right to leave service when they wanted “after a girl has served her master for many years, she should receive some reward for her service” • The cahiers showed how much despair there was between classes. • One wrote “nobles are vampires pumping the last drop of blood from the people” • Another “20 million must live on half the wealth of France while the clergy… devour the other half” The Tennis Court Oath • The delegates from the Third Estate were elected • Only property owners could vote though so most were lawyers, middle class officials, and writers – They were thus familiar with philosophes – They went to the meeting to demand reform • Traditionally when the Estates General had met they each had 1 vote and met in different places, to ensure the First and Second Estates could outvote the Third. • At this meeting the Third Estate demanded that the vote be counted by head. National Assembly • After weeks of stalemate the Third Estate took a daring step. • The third estate declared themselves the National Assembly, saying they represented the people of France, and then invited the other two estates to help them write a constitution for France Tennis Court Oath •They swore “Never to separate and to meet wherever the circumstances might require until we have established a sound and just constitution!” • National Assembly made up of all three estates were locked out of their meeting hall by the crown so they moved to an indoor tennis court in May of 1789. • As a result of the National Assembly and the Tennis Court Oath, and the joining of the reform minded First and Second Estate Louis XVI accepted it • Suspicion and rumor continued to poison the atmosphere though, as Royal troops started arriving in Paris and the King brought back Necker to deal with the financial crisis, but once again dismissed him. Storming the Bastille • On July, 14 1789 more than 800 Parisians assembled outside the Bastille, a medieval fortress used as a prison, demanding weapons and gunpowder • The commander refused to open the gates, opened fire on the crowd, many were killed including the commander and five guards. There were no weapons inside, but the mob did set free some prisoners. • Louis XVI asked when hearing the news “Is it a revolt?” the answer was no “It is a revolution”. Storming the Bastille • July 14, 1789–first major event in the French Revolution! Today: July 14th is Bastille Day in France, similar to our Independence Day celebrated on July 4th.