What was the Estates General?

By Shivank Goel|Updated : September 5th, 2022

The Estates General was the term used for an assembly of three estates of the French society, which included the clergy, the nobles, and the peasants class. During that time, the estates played a very important role, similar to the present-day caste system. The estate to which a person belonged decided his rights and status. The last assembly of the Estates General was called in 1614.

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. The Estates-General included 303 delegates for the clergy, 282 for the noble class, and 578 for the peasants class.

The Three Estates of France

During the French Revolution, the three estates represented three different segments of French society. Based on these estates or segments, one's privileges and status were decided upon. There were three main estates: the clergy, the nobility, and the peasants.

The clergy included people of a higher order, such as priests, nuns, monks, and bishops. The noble class included people with many privileges and possessed 20% of the land, and were even permitted to collect taxes from the peasant class. The remaining 97% of the French population comprised peasants, which included lawyers, ordinary peasants, poor labourers, and merchants.

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  • The three estates of the French society were: the clergy, the nobility, and the peasants.

  • The Estates-General included 303 delegates for the clergy, 282 for the noble class, and 578 for the peasants.

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