Category Archives: The Old Regime

The Old Regime


Old Regime- is a term usually applied to the pattern of social, political, and economic relationships that existed in Europe before the French French revolution. The old regime is an era leading up the the French Revolution of 1789 in which absolutist monarchies were suffering from food shortages.

Nobles of the Sword/Nobles of the Robe- the Nobles of the Sword and the Nobles of the Robe were two different types of nobility that existed in France. The Nobles of the Sword referes to the old traditional type of nobility which gained their power through militaristic achievements and dedication for the king. In return for loyalty the king usually awarded a title and land to those who proved themselves in battle. Nobles of the Robe were given their power through purchasing it. Usually Nobles of the Robe were scholars or judges who often wore robes. The Nobles of the Sword were threatened by the Nobles of the Robe and thought them as inferior because they did not inherit their power through military dedication.

Vingtieme, corvee, taille- was the tax of France which was shortly abolished after the French Revolution. It exempt all royals and nobles from the tax.

Pugachev’s Rebellion- were a series of rebellions by the surfs against the monarchy of Russia. Pugachev promised the serfs land of their own with freedom from their lords. Southern Russia was in turmoil until the Russian government brutally suppressed the rebellions.

Family economy- throughout Europe, most of the population was a participant of some form of a family economy. The family economy was the basic unit of production and consumption. Everyone in a household worked to support the family. All goods produced by the family went to help the family survive a poor harvest or dips in the economy.

Agricultural Revolution- was a time in Europe in which food production increased. It was a d increase of agricultural productivity which eventually led and helped begin the industrial revolution. During the Agricultural Revolution, several inventions and techniques were introduced in order to increase crop productivity.

Jethro Tull- was and English engineer, and inventor. He improved upon traditional sowing methods by creating the horse drawn seed drill. His invention helped grow crops quickly compared to previous methods and allowed the crops to produce more crop yield.

Charles “Turnip” Townsend- Charles “Turnip” Townsend was an English agriculturist. He created the system of crop rotation and the effect it has on crop production and yield.

Enclosures- were closed off areas of land to deter sheep and cattle from grazing on land. By enclosing land the uses of the land become solely restricted to the owner of the pasture.

Industrial Revolution- was a period of time in Europe when the quality of life, quantity of goods, and means of transportation all increased. Many inventions such as the Newcomen steam engine and improved methods of refining iron were introduced.

Josiah Wedgewood- Josiah Wedgewood was a potter who created fine pottery and china at a lower cost for the middle class in England during the 18th century.

Domestic or Putting Out system- was a widespread economic system in Europe during the 17th century. Craftsmen, and store workers made products inside of their homes.

Spining Jenny – James Kay- the spinning jenny is a device used to reduce the work needed to produce yarn. A worker could make eight or more spools of yarn at once. James Kay helped improve the technique used to make yarn out of flax.

Water Frame-James Hargreaves- the water frame is a device which harnesses the power of moving water to spin yarn.

Steam Engine – James Watt- the steam engine created by James Watt was an improvement on the steam engine from the previous Newcomen Engine. Watts’ engine was two times more efficient than the Newcomen engine.

Puddling Process – Henry Cort- the puddling process was created by Henry Cort in 1784. It allowed the for the creation of higher grade iron with less impurities.

Patterns of urbanization – know some population trends!- during the 17th century, at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, people began to move into cities. Cities began to grow. Between 1500 and 1750, larger cities that were already established grew in size. After 1750, the pattern changed and smaller cities and new cities began to grow.

Social classes – middle class and artisans- In the 17th century, the middle class began to grow. As people began to move into cities their incomes began to increase. The middle class was made up of bankers, merchants, and trades people. Artisans were the largest single group in a city. Artisans were part of the middle class.

Ghettos- are separate living communities designated for the jewish populations. Jews were required by law to live in the ghettos. The ghettos were usually walled off from the rest of the city.


1. Historians like to think about continuity, chance, and change. Can you describe these processes in the 18th century?

The 18th century saw society and the political structure of the old world trying to adapt to modern times. Continuity was experienced only in the upper classes of society. The upper class still owned vast amounts of land and wealth. The political structure in Europe stayed the same until the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789. Many of the inventions created in the 18th century changed the quality of life for the average population. Changes in transportation and energy production changed the way humans interacted and worked. It was by chance that England had coal reserves and forests before the Industrial Revolution. Without the necessary energy to feed the Industrial Revolution, continuity would have stayed in Europe.

2. What kind of privileges separated European aristocrats from other social groups?

The upper classes in Europe benefited from their vast amounts of land and resources. The upper classes were allowed to hunt freely on their land. During this era, game laws were enacted and this made it difficult and sometimes impossible for the peasant class to hunt on the land they had been doing so for hundreds of years. Aristocrats benefited from having more money and power. The nobility in France had some political power over the Monarch. The aristocracy had absolute power over the land they controlled. After the invention of the seed drill and other devices for agriculture many people who once had worked on the land of the nobles were now unemployed. In Russia, the Nobles owned the people living on the land. Surfs in Russia could not leave without consent of the lord, and had to work long hours in grueling conditions.

3. What caused the Agricultural Revolution? Explain causes for peasant revolts in the 18th century.

Many of the peasant revolts in Europe during the 18th century were caused by the rising bread prices. The lower classes depended on the affordable price of bread to survive. If it was a choice between starving at home, or rioting for bread, many of the peasants chose to participate in the revolts. If a baker made the price of bread too high there was danger of a revolt. This danger kept the bakers and grain merchants not get too greedy with their prices. Other riots during the 18th century were caused by political and social reasons. People would revolt against poor leaders. Towards the end of the 18th century, revolts shifted away from the rising food prices, but to more politically centered revolts.

4. Describe population trends in the 18th century. How did population growth contribute to changes in consumption?

During the 18th century the population trend began to grow. Child mortality rates began to decrease. The quality of life for people during the 18th century began to improve with the help of the Industrial Revolution. Agricultural inventions helped with producing more food. With food being more abundant, people began to multiply. More food led to increased survival rates of children. With more food for mouths, population rates increased. Changes in consumption occurred when more people were able to consume. People wanted more products for themselves so they bought more from producers. With increased demand producers of agriculture and merchandise began to increase their production rates. This cycle kept growing through the end of the 18th century.

5. Assess the causes of the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century. Why did Great Britain take the lead? How did the consumer contribute to the IR?

The Industrial Revolution gradually began with inventions such as the Newcomen steam engine, and the seed drill. As manufacturers realized that they could produce more supply with these new inventions, they Industrial Revolution took off. Instead of families working at home in the domestic system, producing small goods, factories took their place and began producing much more that the previous domestic system could. Great Britain was the epicenter of the Industrial Revolution due to its abundant resources. Britain contained vast coal reserves to fuel the new steam engines. It also had large forests and running rivers that could be used by factories. Many rivers exist in England, and they can used to power a water wheel for grain mills, or water frames.

6. What changes had taken place in the distribution of populations in cities and towns? Compare the lifestyle of the upper class with that of the middle and lower classes. What were some of the causes of urban riots?

During the 17th century, at the beginning of the industrial revolution, people began to move into cities. Cities began to grow. Between 1500 and 1750, larger cities that were already established grew in size. After 1750, the pattern changed and smaller cities and new cities began to grow. The upper classes lived wealthy, lavish lifestyles. They engaged in many parties, and went to many shows and concerts. The middle class, which consisted of bankers, financiers, merchants, and factory owners, worked in the cities to maintain a decent lifestyle. The poor, urban, lower classes worked in factories with undesirable conditions. Many were overworked and underpaid. The urban riots during the 18th centuries were caused by rising bread prices. Bread was a staple among the lower urban class and when it became unaffordable, riots soon ensued. Later, towards the end of the 18th century, the riots began to sway being caused by food prices, to the political motives of the state. When people became angry with politics and society, people would riot.


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