Conditions of French society before The revolution.
The peasantry. At the time of the revolution in the peasantry numbered about 23,000,000 in a total population of 25,000,000. In some district’s of France the peasantry were still serf in the strict sense of the world, beings bought and sold with the land when it changed hands. These serfs numbered about 1,000,000.Another section of the peasantry were the “meta yer” tenants who shared both the profits and losses of cultivation with their landlords. Others owned small patches of land from which they scrapped a very bare living indeed.
But the great majority of the peasantry held land from the nobility and paid various forms of rent for it.
The church in The French revolution
The Catholic church was the established church of France. Various forms of the Protestant faith existed in France, but were not recognized by the law.The only public worship allowed was that of the Catholic church, while education was largely in the hands of the clergy or under their supervision. This monopoly of religious, power was the subject of violent attacks by many great French writers, among whom the most outstanding was Voltaire, who demanded complete religious toleration.within the church itself there were great inequalities of income so great, indeed, that it completely separated the poor parish priest from the higher clergy. During the revolution the parish priests were, in the main supporters of the peasantry for they were often poorer than some of the peasants themselves and had a strong fellow-feeling for them.The majority of the 60,000 parish priests in the France received a salary somewhere between £30 and £70 a year,while the 134 Archbishop and bishops received an average of about £2,500(60,000 livers) and often had addition to this income from abbeys and other church institutions in their dioceses. There were, of course some well paid priest and some higher clergy who worked conscientiously, but the general picture of the church before the Revolution is decidedly unflattering. The higher clergy frequently took well paid political posts under the crown and many of these posts were sinecures. In the places of the bishop life was lived in luxury very similar to that of the royal court and nobility. Many of the bishop did not live in their dioceses and spent much of their time in the pleasures of hunting.