Although their number seems -2- insignificant to France's population of about twenty-five million, they had great influences contradictive to their numbers. The church had its own administrative body, vast lands, and court of laws. The church was very wealthy at this time. It had a great income from the crops of the land, donations and gifts from the nobles, and fees for registrations of birth and deaths. The second estate consisted of the born nobles, who owned a great deal of France's vast lands.
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They were exempt from taxation. However, the Assembly of the clergy, dominated by bishops, negotiated with the King to make an annual payment to the crown, know as the “don gratuit”. It was always much less than they would have paid in normal taxation and was under 5% of the clerical income. They made up 2% of the population. The First Estate owned nearly 10 per cent of all land in France and therefore was the single largest landowner in France.