French society consisted of three estates. The first estate consisted of the clergy. (a) The second estate consisted of the nobility. The third estate consisted of merchants, court officials, lawyers and big businessman. It also consisted of the peasants, artisans, landless labourers and servants. (b) The members of the first two estates enjoyed certain privileges by birth - these being exemption from paying taxes and collection of feudal dues generally extracted from the peasants. (c) The burden of paying taxes was borne by the third estate. These included a direct tax called the "taille" and a number of indirect taxes which were levied on articles of everyday consumption like salt or tobacco.
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