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C O U R S E 
The French Revolution
Peter McPhee, The University of Melbourne
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
The Essentials of 18th Century France
Notes taken on July 10, 2014 by Edward Tanguay
contemporary Paris
we are used to a France that is dominated by Paris
today 1 in 7 people in France live in Paris and its suburbs
2.3 million people
Paris was almost fully rebuilt in the middle of the 19th century
18th century Paris
a far more congested, medieval city of winding, narrow streets
was much smaller
only 1 in 40 people in France lived in Paris
Paris didn't have the hold on France that it does today
Paris it was not the capital
Versailles was capital from 1722 until 1789, when a throng invaded the capital and forced the royal family to move back to Paris
France in 18th century
vast majority lived in villages and rural towns throughout France
85% directly tilled the soil
outside of European Russia, France is the largest country in Europe
population 28 million, about half of its population today
difficult to govern since communications were slow and difficult
10 days for news to travel from Paris to Mediterranean coast
average town was 400-500 people
produced many different kinds of crops
everyone in the household helped
markets were important
farmers came in with excess produce
overwhelmingly a land of manual labor
very small work places
e.g. master clock maker would produce for a well-to-do clientele
very little industry
starting to experiment e.g. with Jacquard's loom
but essentially artisan-based
a society of orders or estates
ancient form of social organization
1. clergy
2. nobility
3. commons
almost every community was characterized by the presence of the church
statements of power and order structure in a physical sense through architecture
1. power of the clergy
cathedrals were awe-inspiring in comparison to everyday life, a physical statement of the way the world was in terms of authority and the place of the church
2. power of the nobility
the royal palace in Versailles was completed in 1710
an awesome statement of the power of the kings of France
impressed anyone who saw it and communicated a sense of power and stability
one has to ask how a revolution was able of challenging a regime who was capable of investing itself in edifices like this
forms of change slowly occurring
1. growth of port cities along the coast
doubles in size during the 18th century
represents a new form of commercial wealth
stock exchange, a symbol of the power of liquid wealth, a main source of change
La Rochelle
booming because slave-based plantation economy in the New World is booming
French people are developing a taste for the commodities of the New World
2. rural communities are beginning to produce specialized products
e.g. Champagne
regions around Paris producing inexhaustible need for bread for the 700,000 people of Paris
3. across the Atlantic, British colonists had declared their independence
there were repercussions of France's involvement in this the war of liberation from a nation by a new republic