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The first estate consisted of the religious leaders who were in charge of the Church. Regardless of the fact that these church leaders represented a mere 1% of France's total population, they controlled almost 10% of its land in France. These men gained enormous wealth from the land's produce and even more through the collection of rent from the peasants who worked it.
Those who belonged to this estate also received a tithing, which was essentially a tax of 10% from the earnings of all those who lived and farmed on their land. This tithing was supposed to be implemented to financially assist the church. Unfortunately, it was most often used to pay for the extravagant lifestyles of those who belonged to the first estate.