The Middle Class and Aristocrats into France

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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As the period of Enlightenment ushered into France, the middle class and aristocrats created an uproar within the high social order in France. Their fight for more power and the hardships of the peasants were just the tip of the iceberg. Between the wars and the maintenance of France’s military, the issues of taxes created chaos within Frances Empire. France’s financial woes ushered in what is now known as the French Revolution. However, by 1791, the French Revolution took a radical turn. Although the bourgeoisie and the peasants benefited primarily from the revolution, with the bourgeoisie winning political control and the peasant’s freedom from feudal obligations, other groups were dissatisfied. Those in hierarchy wanted their traditional roles restored, while the Parisians sought a more radical approach. There was no legal equality within the community of the Parisians. Parisians, supplied enough anger and force to save the third estate, yet even those who were unable to own property had no say in voting. Frustrated, the Parisians formed organizations and held meetings to do something about this mistreatment. The organization which had come to be known as san – culottes eventually gained widespread support and was able to control the municipal government of Paris – the Cummune.

These radicals were able to throw the monarchy over and extend the revolution. The organization eventually gained strength with over 200 deputies which end up being one of the most important political organizations of the revolution. Seeking for France to become a republic, the radicals fought for their exclusion from politics and leading to a second revolution where on August 10th, 1792 a crowd attacked the royal palace, overthrowing the monarchy and the trial and execution of the King, leading France to become a republic on September 22nd, 1792. From 1618 to 1648, evolved a great divide within the Holy Roman Empire. What started as a war between two main groups within the church, the Catholic and Protestants suddenly became less about religion and more selfishly about which group is worth governing 16th century Europe. In 1517 thanks to Martin Luther, sparking the minds of individuals, it opened the doors for those who decided to follow their own beliefs. However, by 1618 tensions within the Roman Empire reached its boiling point when it came to the diversity of religions within the Holy Roman Empire.

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Although the Peace of Augsburg was merely a band-aid to ease tensions within the Holy Roman Empire, it did little to end the chaos that would ensue. A Catholic prince took over Bohemia was on a mission to rid the protestant minority in his state. A response came in the form of outrage when Bohemian Protestants threw the prince’s representatives out the castle window each religious group sought support from other states with similar religious beliefs. After a series of agreements, the thirty-year war ended due to what was now known as the Peace at Westphalia. With this new treaty came great changes for Europe’s political and religious structure. The Catholic French King was willing to join the Protestant in support to weaken the power of the Habsburgs. Appalled by the treatment of Protestants by Ferdinand, the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus he joined in favor of the Protestants. He helps to create the first effective artillery in the battlefield, by introducing cannons. The war helped to address issues of power beyond religious choice. It new treaty help to shape the way nations resolve their political differences. Another change was the ideas on marriage which began to shift; couples began to expect mutual love instead of duty.

The church instead of referring to conjugal relations they began to induct the word love in their manuals. Couples were now allowed to consider compatibility before an arranged marriage could take place. Education was now an essential central aspect of Christian life. The value brought to the outlook on working. Protestants, who sought support from urban groups, gained spiritual support when it came to the ideas of working. Even women now defined by the work that they did. However, spiritual anxiety ran rapidly amongst the Christian community, due to the new ideas the protestant reformers introduced. There was now a sense of fracture within the community of faith. Because now there was a question of who was responsible for whom since the church once took great care of the poor, widows and orphaned.

Part II: On the heels of the significant turn within the Catholic Church during the 16th century Europe, Martin Luther who became a central figure within the Protestant Reformation helped to peel back the layers of the church to reveal and reject the practices of the Roman Catholic Church. His message, however, would not have found its way beyond his tongue, if it was not for the invention of the printing press. The Protestant Reformation was a significant 16th-century European movement aimed initially at reforming the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Its religious aspects were supplemented by ambitious political rulers who wanted to extend their power and control at the expense of the Church. The printing press entered a period just when the Catholic Church was coming under significant criticism. Long were the day’s people outside the church remained silent. Thanks to Martin Luther and his fight against the Catholic Church, and his challenge over the issue of indulgences. Allowing, the people to question if their salvation was in the right hands of the church. Thanks to the printing press, Luther’s ideas began to spread like wildfire. Benefiting, how the protestant reform developed. The printing press gave Luther an excellent opportunity to produce pamphlets, and flyers to spread around town.

The printing press also allowed new versions of the Bible printed, so the people could interpret it in their way rather than relying on the words of the church. The scientific revolution was a significant event that made its mark and spread ideas of modern science. The sudden burst of interest amongst scholars, government officials, and aristocrats who wanted to learn about a series of scientific subjects. Helped to transform, what is now the modern period of society. This new transformation, however, found an interest of government officials and aristocrats alike, which eventually led them to make their contributions towards the scientific revolution. Governments and aristocrats became employed by scientists. One example of this was Kepler who received help from the imperial court when he served in Bohemia as Rudolf II’s official mathematician. Another individual Galileo became court mathematician in Tuscany Vesalius, serving as physician to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and Harvey as a royal physician in England. Then there were other monarchs like Queen Christina of Sweden, invited scholars and artists to her court where she benefited from the scientific movement by helping to bring light to scientific findings.

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Rulers only contributed to the scientific progress for their benefit, by giving assistance they hoped to get help with their states in the building of projects, mapmaking, navigation to name a few. Louis XVI fiancé minister Jean Baptiste Colber founded the Academie de Sciences in France. With this scientific academy, furnished labs and subsidies helped to bring scientists together. In 1540 in Naples, the first scientific academy for scientific study established. During the period of the 1780s ushered in a new era for Europeans, this transition brought new inventions, and a much more beneficial way for manufacturing and producing. With the birth of the industrial revolution also came the development of two new classes. One of those classes took advantage of this new era and rose above their conditions, thus evolved the new and improved middle class. The middle class (bourgeoisie) still a minority of the population even as Britain prospered. They gained the most some amassing enormous fortunes. Many bankers, smaller factory owners, professionals, merchants, and shopkeepers enjoyed more modest gains as did those who earned interest and commercial ventures.

The middle class benefited the most as a whole as their wealth and numbers grew so did their prestige, political power, and cultural influence. Between the middle decades of the eighteenth century and 1850 inventors and entrepreneurs introduced new machines and methods that began to satisfy these hungry markets. While some entrepreneurs were landowning aristocrats, others rose from rags to riches jumping to the opportunity presented by commerce and industry the middle class they took advantage of the new technologies and ideas. As the industrial revolution grew, the middle class and the upper class became more powerful. The middle class had better food and housing. The middle-class family was smaller and more child-centered than before. Unlike workers and peasants, middle-class parents did not have to view their children as economic assets. Parents began investing more in their children with education and family time. They started centering their lives around their children to give them their best. As they put it “haven in a heartless world” In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries most middle-class families had worked together as one economic unit sharing the responsibilities of running a shop or business and living near their place of work in back rooms, upstairs or next door.


  1. Salisbury, Dennis Sherman – Joyce. 2014.  The West in the World: A History of Western Civilization. McGraw Hill Education.

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The Middle Class And Aristocrats Into France. (2020, Nov 03). Retrieved from