How Did the Political and Social Elites React in the French Revolution

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By the end of the eighteenth century the ancien-régime, under Bourbon rulership, had existed since the rule of Louis XI in 1440 with the glue of aristocratic privilege in its bindings. However, massive debt, conflicting enlightenment ideology, and increasing economic powers of the third estate meant that by the year 1789 those bindings were beginning to fray and the political and social elites of France would face the true terrifying force of egalité. It is important to look at how the right wing nobility reacted to these shaken foundations towards the end of the eighteenth century. We could then see; how the nobility dealt with the changing economy of revolution, to what extent there was a political attempt to ensure their own survival, and how strong was their ideological zeal against the revolution. The answers can evidently be looked at in terms of the three key areas; the political, the economic and the ideological. Politically speaking, it would appear at first that the nobility was locked in a struggle for dominance with the monarchy and bourgeoisie shortly before the violence of 1789. This all seems to stem from Louis XIV’s reforms to establish control over his nobility. Through harnessing them within the parliament at Versailles and imposing restrictions on the powers and tenure of provincial governors, the Sun King was able to keep his nobles under surveillance whilst making them pander to him for political advancement. In the royal court there was now the opportunity for rich bourgeoisie to gain office. Similarly, through his militaristic policy of advancement through rank rather than purchase of office to increase competence amongst nobles and gain a monopoly on military violence, Louis XIV had opened another door for bourgeoisie to perforate nobility. It is in this power vacuum in which the aristocracy supposedly battle for its own prominence in the
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