Les Costumes François, Plate 6


The bourgeoisie is the most considerable estate in the Kingdom, insomuch as it is the most numerous. It is the bourgeoisie that fills the coffers of the Sovereign and that peoples the Cities. An Empire is more or less flourishing according to the affluence of the Bourgeois. The Kings of France have made such a case of this part of their subjects, that they have exempted the Bouregois of Paris and other great cities of the Kingdom from the rights of the Frankish fiefs, of the bank and back bank, and they have been permitted to bear Arms the same as the noble Knights; but let us see what are the qualities which constitute the bourgeois. In Paris, all the Merchants pass for such and nearly all the inhabitants of Paris take the quality, without which it is contested of them; however, the Merchants and people of matching estate are never regarded as noble. When even they will have acquired the right of nobility to be Aldermen, from the moment that they continue commerce, if it is not under cord, for they are derogated for that by the nobility. In the Provinces, a bourgeois is currently what was formerly a Noble Man; that is to say, an inhabitant of a City who lives nobly on his own revenues without any other business nor career, and more strictly a true bourgeois of Paris only differs from one in the Provinces in that he must enjoy more considerable revenues in order to live honorably. Following the civil order, a Merchant aspires to the bourgeoisie and the bourgeois to the nobility. As the bourgeois is a demi-noble, he sometimes wears black suits like Magistrates, sometimes velvet suits, laced the same as Nobles'; his Spouse does not dare to adorn herself with all the trimmings that distinguish the ladies of quality, that they wear on their gowns; but her outfit and her person are nearly as elegant and as up-to-date, as represented in the Print. She has with her her child, who is dressed in the modern fashion proper to his age and his sex.