Explain the meaning of Ancien Regime and seigneurial system in context with pre-revolution France? What happened to them when revolution broke out in France?

Published: June 29, 2020

The term Ancien Regime describes the structure, politics, and powers of French society before the French Revolution. Society was split into a hierarchy of social classes with the king at the top, followed by the First Estate of the Catholic Church, the Second Estate of the nobility, and the Third Estate of the common people, who were further split up into wealthier bourgeoisie and poor peasants.

These social classes interacted through France’s social and political structures. The seigneurial system allowed land-owning nobles called seigneurs to control peasants who worked on their estates. On a larger scale, nobles and some bourgeoisie managed the local governments of the French provinces and held seats on the 13 parlements, or supreme courts.

By 1789, the Ancien Regime was falling apart due to the stresses of war, debt, taxation, mismanagement, and bad harvests. Before too long, revolution would break out, and the Ancien Regime would fade into the past.

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