How do provisions of Declaration contradict  with principles of Old Regime?

Before the French Revolution, there were the three estates. Under the three estates people were divided by status. This is the main contradiction between old regime principles and declaration of the rights of man provisions. When examined, it can be seen that the Old Regime exemplifies hierarchy and unequalness. The estate which one is in guarantees him/her specific privileges or as in the case of the 3rd Estate, none. Privledges here means legal standing ‘that applied to some but not others.’

For instance the first estate, which is made up of priests and clergy man, was exempt from paying taxes, as was the second estate, to which those of nobility belonged. The second estate also had the privilege of honor, to hold public office, and had monopoly over the mills. 1The third estate, however, was that of the peasants, and they had no privileges.

These divisions of status are not divided by class, as in the first estate there could be clergy men who came from peasant backgrounds, but, there is a distinct separation between the estates.

The Declaration of the rights of man deals directly with abolishing unequalness and hierarchy. The first article states, ‘Men are born and remain free and equal in rights.’ (2) This statement contrary to the old regime where, some people had more rights than others. The third principle states, ”

No body nor individual may exercise any authority which does not proceed directly from the nation.” This statement contradicts the Old Regime where individual authority as in the case of priest, clergy, or nobleman; not as a whole, as a nation, as this statement is suggesting.

The fourteenth provision in the Declaration states, “All the citizens have a right to decide, either personally or by their representatives, as to the necessity of the public contribution; to grant this freely; to know to what uses it is put; and to fix the proportion, the mode of assessment and of collection and the duration of the taxes. ” This statement disputes the Old Regime’s concept of status level tax-exempt citizens. Under the Old Regime it was clear that peasants had no privileges at all. As a citizen of the nation, peasants now have access to all seventeen provisions, opposed to zero they had before.


The Ancien Regime: A Brief Introduction

2.”Avalon Project – Declaration of the Rights of Man – 1789.” Avalon Project – Declaration of the Rights of Man – 1789. Web. 7 Nov. 2014.


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