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Ancien Regime


Subject History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405189224.2011.x


Extract

French term (with ancien here meaning “former” rather than “old”) employed to denote the governmental, social, and political structures of France and, by extension, the rest of Europe, before 1789. The expression became common in the debates surrounding the establishment of a new constitution in the summer of 1790 (see also french revolution of 1789). Particularly after the fall of the French monarchy, it was used derogatively to refer to the existence of privilege, the sale of office, a despotic monarchy, an unequal corporate society with rankings based on “estates” and “orders,” and a backward “feudal” economy, all of which had been swept away by the revolutionaries in their attempt to inaugurate an entirely new era. (See also aristocracy ; august decrees ; enlightenment ; louis xvi ; and Map 1 ) ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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