In France those sharp distinctions still continued; a man was a nobleman or he was not, and a vast gulf in prestige, privilege, and mode of life existed between social classes. The unprivileged paid most of the taxes and did all the work, but were not allowed to participate to any extent in the government. In England, on the other hand, the social frontiers were hazier, gradually blending all the way from dukes down to farm laborers. Those frontiers, too were easier to cross. There was, to be sure, a difference between "gentle" and "simple" folk; but class lines were not very sharply drawn. England was consequently more of a unit and was better able to escape the terrible revolt against the noble caste which was later to tear France apart.
(from A History of England and the British Empire)