The Old Regime (Ancien Régime in French) was the aristocratic, social and political system which had been established in France during the 15th century, lasting until the 18th century under the late Valois and Bourbon dynasties. The political and social structures of the Old Regime were the result of years of state-building, legislative acts, internal conflicts and civil wars. During the Old Regime, the clergy and nobility constituted the First and Second Estates respectively, enjoying political and economic privileges. These two classes or estates did not pay taxes, for example, even though he main source of revenue of the French crown was the heavy taxes, which were unequally and unfairly imposed on the Third Estate, which was composed by the bourgeoisie, the craftmen, and farmers.
During the Old Regime, France was ruled by an absolute monarch, which meant that the King held all three ruling powers in his hands; there was no legislative assembly or parliament system that initiated law, checking, revising or approving bills initiated by an executive power; nor was there an independent judicial system. The absolute power of a monarch was based on the Divine Right of a King theory; the right to rule without limits conferred upon the monarch by God. The Old Regime was put an end by the French Revolution with the abolition of the monarchy by the National Convention in 1792. It was the existent inequity and financial disorder and the crown’s debt during the Old Regime that helped push France in the direction of Revolution.
Old Regime: Time of Culture and Elegance