Agriculture was the principal source of employment and wealth, the most significant sector of the economy, the basis of the taxation — government, ecclesiastic (tithes), seigneurial and proprietorial (rents) — that funded most other activities. Land and its products provided both the structure of the social system and the bulk of the wealth that kept it in being and provided the opportunities for social change. The vast majority of the population lived in the countryside and agricultural activity dominated the lives of the people of Europe. In 1789, 74 per cent of the active population in the Vivarais region in France were employed in agriculture, a fairly typical figure.
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