What Was the Life of an Aristocrat Like During the French Revolution?

Life for aristocrats during the French Revolution was dangerous, and many lost their lives. The revolutionaries believed that the aristocrats maintained an unfair and undeserved social, economic and political privilege. Aristocrats before the French Revolution were largely descendants of the nobility; however, they were often appointed by the monarchy or entered by marriage.

In pre-revolutionary France, the political body was called the “Estates General” and was composed of three estates. The First Estate was composed of the monarchy and church leaders. The Second Estate was composed of the aristocratic nobility. The Third Estate was composed of the bourgeoisie, or land owning class, and peasants. The Third Estate held the least amount of power and was burdened with tax obligations that aristocrats were excused from paying.

The members of the Third Estate formed the National Assembly and began the revolution in July 1789. Aristocrats fled Paris and Versailles in order to evade being captured for their alleged crimes against society. They enjoyed unfair privileges at the expense of the classes beneath them and were executed for them if found guilty. The guillotine was a popular method of execution during the French Revolution. Aristocrats, and the monarchy, were sentenced to death by this method.