Abolition of Feudalism in the French Revolution

Abolitionof Feudalism in the French Revolution

TheFrench revolution entailed an epoch in the France history, when therepublicans defeated the monarchy, and the church of the RomanCatholic performance went under radical restructuring. An importantevent during the French revolution was the abolition of feudalism.The feudal system in France advocated for the distribution of land,where services or rent was to be paid in return the feudal systemused to give away land to individuals who could render services toland owner chiefly military services. The system changed and usedthe institutions that were available during the time. For instance,the church had a place in influencing the feudal system since thehierarchy in the church was almost parallel or similar to thefeudalism. Besides, the church owned land, which was held bymonasteries. The abolishment of feudalism meant that the seigneurialrights of the nobility as well as the tithes collected by theCatholic clergy were considered no more (Chaussinand-Nogaret 62). Thechief aim of this report is to argue that feudalism became abolisheddue to three main reasons which include trade, rise of coin-basedeconomies, and rise of cities.

Ininterpreting the issue of the abolishment of the feudalism, astructural approach will be used. This approach best fits inexplaining the issue of feudalism abolishment because the issue canbe well explained using objective factors. For example, trade can beconsidered as an objective factor that led to the abolishment offeudalism because it well indicates the pattern of relationshipformed amid social groups and the state. Besides, the rise of citiesas well as the rise of coin-based economies can be considered asobjective factors because they both involve individuals, socialgroups and the state coming together in forming a given system thatfacilitated the abolishment of the feudalism system. The abolishmentof feudalism is best understood by the structural approach since itcenters on more objective factors rather than subjective.

Tradecan be considered as one of the factors that led to the abolishmentof feudalism. Where there is trade, there are formulation of newrules that focus on guiding the trade agreements existing amidparties. This is an implication that many things are laid in the openconcerning any taxes or services that are to be rendered under thetrade agreement. Thus, as France became opened up to the trade withother trade partners it became necessary to lay everything involvingthe trade in the open. This was especially done through developingnew rules that would govern the exchange of commodities and services(Kropotkin, Petr and Dryhurst 106). As the new rules were beingformulated, it was important to identify the services and taxes thatwere to be offered by who to who as well as the commodities that wereto be exchanged since almost everything was in the open as tradedeveloped, it was exceedingly difficult for feudal system to workunder newly developed rules. Because almost every aspect of thegovernment was in the light under new rules developed for tradeamidst the locals and the international partners, it was hard forland taxes to go unnoticed. This made seigneurial rights of thenobility as well as the tithes collected by the Catholic clergybecome abolished, and as a result, the feudal system could not find aplace in France anymore. As Selbin notes, ideas and actors arecritical aspects in bringing a revolution, trade was important inbringing an end to the feudal system.

Selbinfurther argues that an important component of a revolutionarypotential in any population is having an understanding of theperception of the population and the options available in consideringa revolution. The options constitute the population having acollective action, which offers actors with the driving force ofconsidering a viable solution or response to an existing oppression.Thus, the rise of coin-based economy can be considered as animportant action that led to the abolishment of feudalism in France.The rise of coin-based economy was very critical in the abolishmentof the feudalism in France because collection of taxes was made easy,implying that the government did not have to rely on the nobilityclass in serving as soldiers. Prior to the introduction of thecoin-based economies, government bureaucracies had to rely onsoldiers, who could offer services in the farmland as well as intowns and estates. The nobility class as well as their retainers usedto offer rulers military services as a form of tax payments ratherthan giving coinage (Chaussinand-Nogaret 104). Therefore, thedevelopment of coin-based economies in France led to the abolishmentof feudalism since soldiers could not continue offering services as aform of tax payment, but rather adopted the use of coins.

Inaddition, the rise of cities can be considered as another main reasonleading to the abolishment of feudalism in France. As cities grow,people become more open since there is a growth in communication.Besides, as towns grow, power becomes concentrated to the cities inthe hands of very few individuals. Prior to the abolishment of thefeudal system, power was concentrated in the hands of manyindividuals, which made oppression easy (Evergates 52). However, therise of cities resulted in the concentration of power within thehands of few individuals. This made it difficult for the feudalsystem to continue having its oppressive force. Furthermore, as aresult of growth of cities, individuals were in a position tointeract more with each other. As people became more open to eachother due to the growth of cities, communication amid individualsopened up, which implies that people could share a lot of ongoingthings amidst them. The open communication amidst the people as aresult of the rising cities made it difficult for oppressors toprogress their oppressive actions.


Basedon the structural approach, the abolition of feudalism in France canbe considered to be as a result of three chief reasons, which includethe rise of cities, the rise of coin-based economies and trade. Therise of cities can be considered as a main reason leading to theabolishment of feudalism in France. As cities grew, people becamemore open because there was a growth in communication. Besides, ascities grew, power became concentrated to the cities in the hands ofvery few individuals. This made it difficult for supporters offeudalism to continue their oppression. As France became opened up tothe trade with other trade partners it became necessary to layeverything involving the trade in the open. This was especially donethrough developing new rules that would govern the exchange ofcommodities and services. On the other hand, the rise of coin-basedeconomy was very critical in the abolishment of the feudalism inFrance because collection of taxes was made easy, implying that thegovernment did not have to rely on the nobility class in serving assoldiers.


Kropotkin,Petr A, and N F. Dryhurst. TheGreat French Revolution, 1789-1793: (two Volumes Combined)., 2009. Print.

Chaussinand-Nogaret,Guy. TheFrench Nobility in the Eighteenth Century: From Feudalism toEnlightenment.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985. Print.

Evergates,Theodore. FeudalSociety in Medieval France: Documents from the County of Champagne.Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993. Print.

Selbin,Eric. Agencyand Culture in Revolutions.