The aristocrats of France used to make up only 1% of the population, but owned 1/5thof the land. They paid no taxes, but taxed the peasants around them for using salt, using the Lord’s ovens to bake their bread, and his mill for grinding corn. During the revolution many of the privileged were brutally killed. So, does France have many aristocrats today? The surprising answer is ‘yes’, because more were created after the revolution by the Pope, Napoleon and the the kings that followed him. It is estimated that there are 50-100,000 nobles today in France almost the same number as before ‘les miserables’ took back control. The UK has 1,200 aristocrats with 36,000 family members. But ours have always been kind and benevolent – I’ve just finished watching Downton Abbey!

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