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Before The French Revolution Essay

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Below is an essay on "Before The French Revolution" from Anti Essays, your source for research papers, essays, and term paper examples.

In the years before the revolution, French women enjoyed virtually no civil or economic rights. As Darline Gay Levy, Harriet Branson Applewhite, and Mary Durham Johnson explain in the introduction to Women in Revolutionary Paris, 1789–1795: “By and large, women were legally totally subservient to their husbands or fathers in virtually all areas of marriage contracts, inheritance laws, property and tax laws, and child custody arrangements. Marriages were indissoluble.” Noblewomen were not permitted to rule on disputes on properties they held. Meanwhile, working women lacked economic rights and protections; many were concerned about the entrance of men into traditionally female occupations such as seamstress and embroiderer. These women feared that unless such employment was restricted to females, the “fairer sex” would have to look for less respectable jobs.

Women were not the only people in France who were denied basic human rights, of course. Indeed, France’s peasants lived under the worst conditions. Although industry was becoming a more important part of the nation’s economy, France was still largely dependent on the feudal system in which powerful feudal lords (seigneurs) owned profitable farmlands on which peasants lived and worked. Some peasants had managed to earn enough money from their crops to purchase their own small plots of land, but the vast majority lived in poverty, completely under the thumbs of seigneurs. In his book The Old Regime and the French Revolution, nineteenth-century historian Alexis de Tocqueville details the burdens of the typical farmer:

Everywhere the resident seigneur levied dues on fairs and markets, and everywhere enjoyed exclusive rights of hunting. . . . [It] was the general rule that farmers must bring their wheat to their lord’s mill and the grapes to his wine press. A universal and very onerous right was that named lods et ventes; that is to say an impost levied by the lord on transfers of land within his domain. And...

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