The French Estates
Nowhere was the divide between the wealthy and poor greater than in France. The French Aristocracy were among the wealthiest individuals in all of Europe. They controlled vast tracts of land, huge amounts of money, and had power that was unchecked by a parliament as in Great Britain.
The poor in France were suffering greatly. They had been abused, mistreated, and ignored. They had been forced to work on the estates of the wealthy with very little pay and in terrible conditions. They were starving, sick, dirty, tired, and growing more resentful with each passing year.
French society was divided into three separate castes known as estates. The first estate was made up of priests and religious leaders. Those belonging to this estate occupied the highest level in French society. The second estate was made up of the nobility, while the third and lowest estate consisted of everyone else, which included over 97% of the population of France.