What was the Estate General?

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 9th, 2023

The Estates General was the name given to an assembly of the three estates of the French society, which included the clergy, nobles, and peasants. Estates were very important at the time, similar to the present-day caste system. A person’s rights and status were determined by the estate to which he or she belonged. The Estates General held its last meeting in 1614.

Estates General of France

King Louis XVI called an assembly which was recognized as the Estates-General in May of 1789, since 1614, as France was facing an economic and agricultural crisis at that time, which was before the French Revolution. Read the important points about the Estates General and the divisions in French society below.

  • The Estates-General included 303 delegates for the clergy, 282 for the noble class, and 578 for the peasants class.
  • The three estates represented three different segments of French society during the French Revolution.
  • One’s privileges and status were determined by these estates or segments. There were three major estates: clergy, nobility, and peasants.
  • Higher-ranking members of the clergy included priests, nuns, monks, and bishops.
  • The noble class enjoyed many privileges that included – they possessed 20% of the land, and were even allowed to collect taxes from the peasant class.
  • Peasants made up the remaining 97% of the French population, which included lawyers, ordinary peasants, poor laborers, and merchants. These people were not treated well in society and had to fight for their rights later.

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