Essay Assignment In the 18th century, only 8% of the French population were part of the bourgeoisie, in which people are better off economically, are educated, are talented, and well informed. Unfortunately, ?tine and Marguerite Ouellette’s family were part of the social class that formed the majority of the population, the peasants. Both lovers were born in Laces, northern France during the second half of the 18th century.
Their lives were greatly influenced by major political ideas and revolutions such as he Enlightenment, which culminated with The French Revolution. Did these events improve their lives? Not necessarily. Yet, ?Elisabeth, their only daughter, managed to live the life of a bourgeois in the 19th century. Laces, located on France’s eastern border and on the west bank of the upper Rhine, was the fifth smallest of the 27 regions of France and hometown of ?tine Ouellette’s and his family. ?tine was the descendant of a line of hard working farmers who struggled to survive like most peasants of Laces.
The farm was passed from generation to generation in the Ouellette’s family and provided employment to fellow villagers who were in need of food or money to pay feudal taxes or land rents. ?tine, the oldest of his 4 siblings, had more responsibilities in the maintenance of the farm after the death of his father in 1762 during the Seven Years’ War. At only 12 years old, ?tine had the knowledge of fertilization, planting, and harvesting while attending a catholic school at the same time.
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The Ouellette’s farm was known for producing products such as beards, corn, wheat, cabbage and most notably potatoes, which consisted of the main diet of the poor during this era. After many years of hard labor, ?tine struggled to support his needy family due to the insufficient amount of sales. Alsatians were paying taxes from the Old Regime, rather than saving their families from starvation. Peasants were unable to fight the political system of France, which was centered around absolutism. They had no political power, no privileges, and no rights!
The Ouellette’s lived in poverty and survived off their savings. ?dentine’s mother was slowly dying and his siblings were on the pursuit of a better life outside of Laces. As for Tontine, he decided to keep the family business running and was convinced that life in France would eventually get better. He then inherited the small cottage and the farm. Life was a constant struggle for ?tine by the age of 27. However, Marguerite, a young and attractive French schoolgirl from the catholic school of Laces, was his sunshine during his misfortune.
At a public dance, also called an “assembly’, when Marguerite didn’t have any chaperon, Tontine approached her on her way back home with French sabot and baggy ragged trousers covered in mud. He asked her to be his lady tort the dance and she gladly accept e d the invitation. Within a tee minutes, boot ?tine and Marguerite knew they were made for each other. ?tine had put on his only chemise covered with ruffles on the chest, an elegant doublet, leggings, and a nice pair of shined shoes to impress his love.
The dance had already started and Marguerite was nowhere to be found in the room. Tontine was worried that she might have gone with someone else, or she may have forgotten the invitation, until she saw her coming down the stairs with her bright blue eyes and curly blond hair. Marguerite was wearing a beige lawn robe embroidered with stripes and sprigs of go roses, closed-front bodice panels with a drawstring to her neck, and a Ana blue purse for the finishing touch. As ?tine laid eyes on her from the other side of the room, he knew she was the one.
From there on, the couple lived together in Dentine’s small cottage and decided to get married Just a few weeks later. ?tine didn’t have enough money to support both of their lives, so Marguerite asked for financial help from her parent’s who worked in the textile industry who worked in the weaving process. The amount was enough to provide sufficient financial security for marriage s well as to support themselves and their future children. Tontine and Marguerite Ouellette’s got married in 1787, the same year the First Assembly of Notables met.
The wedding took place behind their small cottage, and was a public event. “Given the harsh conditions of life, a wedding provided a treasured moment of feasting, dancing and revelry for the peasants,”(556). The couple, now married and with a better financial security, was now able to found a family. Just a year later, Marguerite gave birth in their own household with the aid of an successes on a parturition chair. Amelia, born in 1788, was her name. The parent’s were filled with Joy within the first few months, until they noticed that the newborn was frequently having diarrhea.
Amelia died from dehydration brought by diarrhea and due to the limited medical knowledge and techniques during the second half of the 18th century. After Amelia’s tragic death, Tontine and Marguerite decided to only have another child until better medical knowledge in society. Following the death of their infant, the parent’s tried desperately to forget about the devastating event by putting their energy into the farm, while spending some leisure time together. The farm became successful with the consumer revolution. Goods increased in number and variety, which led to the growth in consumption during the second half of the 18th century.
As for releasing their anger after their daughter’s death, ?tine and Marguerite took part in religious celebrations such as the carnival. Drinks were poured, and dancing was performed by the peasants who were dressed as noble men and women. It was on the 5th of May, 1789 when Louis XVI summoned the estates-generals for its first meeting since 1614. The French Revolution would affect the small town of Laces once France establishes a first constitutional monarchy; a radical republic, and a new empire led by the famous Napoleon Bonaparte. ?tine and Marguerite were now part of the third estate.
Being part of the third estate meant that they had neither power nor the right to speak due to absolutism, and that they had taxes to pay. With the new reform, Tontine and Marguerite were in deep financial difficulties with the economical collapse, which led to an inflation of prices of goods. It certainly was a bad timing with the arrival of their second child, ?Elisabeth, during the Napoleonic RA. Unable to provide for their newborn girl, it was in great dismay that the parent’s decided to travel to the city and disposed to their baby in a tingling none so that ?Elisabeth could live a better life.
Being taken care of by a wet nurse, which “was a widespread business in the eighteenth century, conducted within the framework of the putting-out system”(559), ?Elisabeth managed to get adopted by a rich and educated family of bourgeois who were unable to have a child. ?tine and Marguerite hit by crisis back in Laces, were in the middle of the peasants rebellion against the king during The Great Fear in the summer of 1789. The feudal system and absolutism were abolished by 1791, which was the beginning of the Rights of Man and great news for the married couple that were slowly losing hope.
As life in France was improving, Marguerite gave birth to Joseph who was her last child. Unfortunately, only three years later, Joseph was introduced to Repertoire’s “Reign of Terror” from 1793 to 1794 where thousands of people are killed in the name of the Revolution. It is in 1812, after a strenuous life filled with disappointment, that ?tine Ouellette’s offered from a heart attack and died at the age of 62 years old. The same year Napoleon decided to invade Russia who had allied itself with England. Marguerite, now alone with her 21 years old boy, decided to get remarried to G©award Charlatan, a textile worker.
Hearing the news, Joseph left Laces in discontentment and anger towards his mom and has contact with her. Joseph, who never had the opportunity to go to school, had developed labor skills while working with his dad on the farm. Such experience gave him the benefit of obtaining a Job during the industrial revolution in the 19th century. The pressure to produce more goods for a growing market was directly related to the first decisive breakthrough of the Industrial Revolution” (617) and France quickly became a technology driven economy with the rise of the factory system.
However, the working environment was unsanitary, dangerous and mostly oppressive for workers such as Joseph. The youngest of the Ouellette’s family would work around 13 hours a day, 6 days a week to earn a minimal salary. Meanwhile, ?Elisabeth, now 23 years old and part of the bourgeois, had successfully graduated from school and married a rich lawyer. Unlike her family, ?Elisabeth managed to live a wealthy and prosperous life by owning a house and avoiding debt. It is in the year 1839 when Marguerite Ouellette’s, wife and mother of three children, died of age.
She and her husband were unfortunately born peasant and depressant. ?Elisabeth and Joseph never even heard the news of the death of their mother. She wasn’t the only one to have died however. Only 32 years later, both ?Elisabeth and Joseph died. Joseph, with the harsh work conditions during the industrial revolution, died from tuberculosis, the number one transmitted killer disease during the industrial revolution. As for ?Elisabeth, she died from typhus. Nevertheless, ?Elisabeth managed living a happy, wealthy and prosperous life besides a wealthy family of bourgeois.