The Marriage of Figaro Historical Context

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Throughout the 1700s, France was the largest and most powerful nation in Europe. French society was divided into three estates. The First Estate consisted of the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church and made up less than one percent of the population. The Second Estate, the nobility, made up less than two percent of the population. People were born into the Second Estate, but they could also purchase titles. Neither the First nor the Second Estate paid any significant taxes. The Third Estate consisted of everyone else in France, from the peasants to the bourgeoisie, and constituted about ninety-seven percent of the French population.

Around the mid-1700s, discontent in France began to grow among the members of the Third Estate. Peasants were charged higher rents, and laborers' wages did not match the rising cost of food. The bourgeoisie, the urban middle...

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This section contains 677 words
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The Marriage of Figaro from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.