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The young sons of the nobles were given all the high and important posts in the state and the church. They had full freedom to appropriate the annual income of the church and all the property attached to churches. Therefore like the nobles the life of the clergy had also become luxurious. They were also free from state taxation. They were not attached to their religious duties and rituals. They frittered away their time in the conspiracies of the court luxuries, singing and dancing.

The priests of the lower order were recruited from the peasantry. They were the recipients of clerical stipends amounting to twenty-five pounds per annum. They hated the high ecclesiastics because of their fabulous wealth and gay life. They sympathized with the commoners. It was due to this that they were in league with the revolutionaries in the turbulent times. Hazen writes: "the triumph of the popular cause in the early days of the Revolution was powerfully aided by the lower clergy."

The bourgeoisie were looked down upon though they were intellectually well equipped. The starving peasantry which comprised the farmers and the peasants had to pay one thing or the other to the state all round the year. The commoners were in an overwhelming majority in the country, yet this class was wallowing in poverty and misery.

The class enjoying the special privileges was the class of nobles. This section of society was concerned solely with taking everything from the people and not paying anything to the state.


3.4d The Intellectual Reasons

Great thinkers and philosophers of the age exposed the political and social evils of the country. The public contracted a horrible loathing against the then state rule.

Montesquieu beat the Theory of Divine Rights hollow. Voltaire exposed the high-handedness of the upper classes and exploitation of the people by the nobles and the clergy of the higher order through his critical and satirical writings.

Exhibit 3.4
A Painting of Voltaire

At this critical juncture, the thinkers of France exposed the excesses of the Crown and the clergy as well. They revealed to the somnolent people the defects of the administration and created in them a sense of hatred against the nobles and the clergy of higher strata. They were now dissatisfied with the present state of affairs. The revolution now looked imminent. D. M. Ketelbey observes that "Writers of all kinds prepared the French Revolution."

Index

3.0 - Introduction
3.1 The Seven Years' War
3.2 Catherine the Great
3.3 The Industrial Revolution
3.4 The French Revolution
3.5 France as a Republic (1795 - 1799)
3.6 Napolean Bonaparte
3.7 Points to Remember

Chapter 4





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