The term “bourgeoisie” refers to the dominant social class of the capitalist system, which consists primarily of owners of goods or capital.
The word is associated with the word “burgos”, which originally meant “fortress” or “small towns”. This is because the old European cities were protected by walls.
With this, the bourgeoisie emerged in the late Middle Ages, with the expansion and development of medieval cities.
Emergence of the Bourgeoisie
With the decline of the Middle Ages and the emergence of capitalism, Europe was undergoing several changes in the political, economic, social and cultural fields.
During this period the decline of the feudal system took place, the absolutist system emerged, the Protestant reform, the formation of national monarchies, among others.
The new period that emerges, called “Modern”, appears together with the bourgeois class. This is represented by new values and ideals (personal freedom, free trade, religious and civil rights).
The Commercial Renaissance arises from the expansion of commerce. Commercial expansion was intensified by the overseas expansion of the 15th and 16th centuries, the Crusades and also by the opening of the Mediterranean Sea.
All of this made it possible to expand trade relations, as well as to develop the internal trade of cities, driven by fairs.
In this way, the emergence of cities was an important factor in the formation of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie is made up of merchants and peasants who lived in the “burgos”, the bourgeoisie.
They met in the “Guilds“, trade promotion associations, and the “Office Corporations“, which brought together citizens of various professions.
It is worth remembering that the three social groups that formed the previous society of the Medieval (monarchical and feudal system) were the nobility, the clergy and the people.
The first two groups were privileged over the people. The nobility and clergy owned large lands, were exempt from paying taxes to the King, and, in addition, had various powers.
Indeed, the nobility, which was the largest holder of power, is slowly losing ground to the bourgeoisie. The people, who previously worked for the nobility and clergy, saw in commerce the social, economic and political rise.
However, in addition to the Urban and Commercial Renaissance, the Cultural Renaissance expressed a new vision and mindset.
The Cultural Renaissance combined with Renaissance Humanism (man as the center of the universe), to the detriment of medieval theocentrism (God as the center of the world).
This was through an art concerned with expressing the liberation of various beliefs and dogmas of the Middle Ages, called the “Dark Ages.”
In addition to all these events, Modern Science, through further research, proposed new views. These views distanced themselves from the one-sided idea especially associated with religion.
Note that over time, the bourgeois class consolidates itself. After the French Revolution in the eighteenth century, and the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century, this class came to dominate the world political and economic scene.
Later, according to Marxist theory, the bourgeoisie becomes the ruling class of the capitalist system. This system holds the wealth of today’s means of production as opposed to the working class (proletariat).
Bourgeoisie and proletariat
According to the theory developed by the German intellectuals Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1895), Marxism, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat represent two social classes.
The bourgeoisie is the ruling class of the capitalist system. It holds power and the means of production, and the proletariat represents the dominated, working and working class.
The emergence of the bourgeoisie from the fifteenth century in Europe represented one of the consequences of the Commercial, Cultural and Urban Renaissance.
Unlike the feudal system, the bourgeois sought enrichment and social mobility, to the detriment of the self-contained and self-contained feudal society.
Thus, gradually the feudal system was replaced by a primitive capitalism, hence the term “Mercantile Bourgeoisie”.
This new group was imbued with mercantilist ideals , namely capital accumulation, favorable balance and metalism.
The Industrial Bourgeoisie , as its name implies, represents one of the social classes that played an important role in the Industrial Revolution in the eighteenth century.
This group was very important during this period. With the replacement of man by machine and the advancement of technology, the main objective of the industrial bourgeoisie was to acquire profit in a shorter period of time.
Thus the industrial bourgeoisie, who held the economic and political scene of the time, boosted industrial development. This happened as they invested in the purchase of machinery and raw materials, as well as in hiring employees.
Types of Bourgeoisie
The concept of bourgeoisie is classified in three ways, namely:
- Upper Bourgeoisie: holder of the means of production
- Bourgeois Media: Traders and Liberal Professionals
- Petty bourgeoisie: small traders and artisans