People And The Old Regime Essay

1939 words - 8 pages

People and the Old Regime

The Old Regime, a society defined by its characteristics of strong monarchies and group mentality of the peasantry, was a flourishing society from 1715 until 1789. The early economy was that of an agrarian subsistence, meaning that production of food goods was enough to allow the family to survive with little surplus. However, the economic practices changed and due to improved methods of farming a larger surplus of food was produced and able to be sold. The economy also switched from an agrarian base to a production base. The community was the largest unit in the ìOld Regimeî society followed closely by the family. The institutions which influenced the individuals of the society were those of the government, religion, and the family. Each of these establishments shaped the lives of every individual by their daily contact with at least one aspect of these institutions.

The early governments of the Old Regime were very weak monarchies. The nobles generally in parliamentary government would outweigh the king in matters of the state. However, this soon changed as kings became more powerful and began to enforce the idea of Divine Right, the belief that a king ruled because God had allowed his family to ascend to the throne. This ideal of Divine Right caused the peasants to see the king as an appointee of God, and therefore it was against Godís wishes to disobey the king.

The system of Divine Right caused the king to have greater power because the nobles could not unite against the king. Due to the precarious power of the king, his power was based on his daily proving to the nobles that he was qualified to be king, the scientific law of blood began to come into public focus. This law stated that lineage was a gift from God and therefore the kingís family was chosen by God to rule the nation. Using this policy to defend their position, the kings would lobby taxes in order to maintain power. These laws and taxes went unquestioned by the people of this society. They would not go against the king due to his relationship to God. This allowed the peasants to live content knowing that the country was being directed by the hand of God. However, the welfare of the nation was not as important as that of the community, so the nation was an obsolete institution in Old Regime society.

Religion, however, had a more direct role on the peopleís lives. Taking advantage of its high position the Church, namely the Catholic church, would enforce certain decrees which were seen as direct laws from God. These laws were those of localism, the view of the world as a place of limited good, and a reaffirmation of the law of blood. The law of localism stated that God had placed each man and woman into their designated place in society. To rebel against your place would be to rebel against God. This would keep people from entertaining ideas of freedom through a revolution, because each person would...

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