Malakai Bloom P.3
The First Estate-The Clergy:
The First Estate consisted members of France’s Catholic Church. There were basically two parts of this estate, the higher clergy and the lower clergy. Despite its dominance, the Church was not immune to criticism. The excesses of the higher clergy and their disregard for the poor they were meant to serve invited much criticism from Enlightenment writers like Voltaire. There was also dissent within its own ranks. Of the 180,000 clergymen in France, about one-third was parish priests: all well-educated, hardworking, compassionate and charitable, respected by the people in their parish. But they were also disregarded by the higher clergy, poorly paid and forced to live rather modestly. Throughout the 1700s a gulf began to emerge between some priests, who lived among the poor of the Third Estate and witnessed their sufferings first-hand, and their superiors in the church. It was not surprising that many priests welcomed the summoning of the Estates-General, at which they were also well represented, with 208 of the delegates being parish priests. In cahiers the lower clergy called for their greater involvement in ecclesiastical and church decision-making, as well as an end to the church’s almost total exemption from taxation. The liberal ideas of the lower clergy were reflected in their actions at the Estates-General, when 149 of them voted to leave the First Estate and accept the invitation to join the Third Estate. A majority would also vote to endorse the newly-formed National Convention.
The Second Estate- The Nobles:
The Second estate was the nobility. Nobles held the highest positions at court, in the church, and in government. Nobles had many privileges, and we as good as exempt from paying taxes. They had the ability to collect taxes from the peasants on their land, including old feudal taxes that should have been irrelevant in the day, but were collected so the noble could live extravagantly. The nobles...