Talk:Estates of the realm

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Earlier content of the three estates, replaced by a redirect here:

"This term used in regards to Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales describes how every one living in medieval England was easily categorized as either from the highest noble class, the holy (sometimes not so holy) Church class, and the working class."

I suspect that this (anonymously contributed) is just someone's partial understanding from a college course, but if anyone feels that all or part of this belongs in the article, feel free to mine it. -- Jmabel 22:21, 5 Apr 2004 (UTC)

External search[edit]

I searched Wiki for 1st 2nd 3rd Estates and found no correct match. So I went to Google and found this info (link) via French Revolution. Someone in the know, could you set the search to include 1st 2nd 3rd likeas First Second Third. Thanks in advance.Greg0658 (talk) 15:12, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

The first, second and third estates are covered, but the fourth estate is considered to be media (print, radio and television media). The Fifth Estate is considered to be best represented by the internet, the mass of knowledge available on the internet. Wikipedia is a very good example of the Fifth Estate in practice.

Yes, but these latter are not Estates of the Realm in the proper sense, they are an extension of the concept by analogy. -- Jmabel | Talk 19:11, Jan 22, 2005 (UTC)

French bias[edit]

The present article, along with the other articles on the individual estates, seems far too integrated into a description of the French Ancien Regime. The claim that the use of the term w.r.t France is "is by far its most common usage" strikes me as simply bizarre, and the articles go into unbalanced depth about the French system and barely mention its use in the rest of Europe except in brief notes on the present-day setup.

Let's get this in perspective: the system of the three estates is first mentioned in 9th-century Britain, in the Alfredian Boethius, some 500 years before the Ancien Regime was imposed in France. The concept remains a commonplace throughout Europe for the next millenium. The status quo, which seems to be suggesting it's a 14th-century French innovation, is clearly misleading. However, the articles are so strongly tied into a series devoted to the Ancien Regime that it's not clear how the concept can be discussed in a more balanced way within the present structure.

In addition to this, the articles on the individual estates seem to be largely redundant; they include large chunks of apparently duplicated text.

I would propose as a fix that we should create Three Estates discussing the common European concept, its history, and its implementation in different countries, and redirect First Estate, Second Estate, and Third Estate there; and keep Estates of the realm as the single article on the concept in the series on the Ancien Regime, merging in the unique parts of First Estate etc., and basically discussing the particular implementation used in France.

I'm not foolish enough to attempt such sweeping changes without checking that nobody is going to have better ideas or strong objections, though. So... any comments?

Haeleth Talk 14:54, 31 October 2005 (UTC)

Well, the obvious problem is that there aren't just three Estates historically. There's no point in trying to move this article to "(number) Estates". Furthermore, the people who don't belong to any Estate would be ignored; like the casteless in India, they could represent the majority of the population. The text about the French system would be perfectly fine for a sub-paragraph about it. The concept of estates itself, on the other hand, would benefit from a discussion on the history of the concept, and several national detailed descriptions. --Vuo 16:57, 31 October 2005 (UTC)
In the three-estate system, there aren't any people who don't belong to any estate. If you're not a soldier or a priest, you're a farmer. The system begins to break down in some places when a city-dwelling merchant class emerges, but it's replaced with a system of three classes, where the lower-ranking soldiers and clergy are merged into the middle class with the merchants, not with an expanded estate system.
There may have been times when other numbers of estates were recognised, but I don't know of any. The system currently described in this article is the historically dominant one, which was the standard from some time before 900 through to around 1500, and continued to be a standard model for several hundred years after it ceased to represent the actual composition of the European state. Indeed, the only reason I ended up at this article at all was that I was intending to add a link to the three estates to an article on a work of 14th century English literature, and I was surprised to find it redirected to an article that began "In France under the ancien régime..."
Hence my suggestion: the concept of three estates is the important concept which needs an article, but I don't want to break up this series on the history of the French state unnecessarily. — Haeleth Talk 20:29, 31 October 2005 (UTC)
Further to the above - sorry, Vuo: I hadn't seen the bit about Sweden and Finland in the article. I see where you're coming from now... four estates and a majority who aren't attached to any of them. That does complicate matters, and I won't start redirecting things without a solution, though I think the essential point that the three-estate system needs an article of its own remains. — Haeleth Talk 15:42, 1 November 2005 (UTC)
If someone wants to reorganize this all, I have no objection, but please have a plan before you slice and dice: in particular, there are probably going to be a lot of links that have to change, or this will be a mess. It is possible that some material specific to France might best be gathered under the existing French States-General or a new article The Three Estates in France, while First Estate, Second Estate, and Third Estate should be generic. I don't know.
By the way, you say that "In the three-estate system, there aren't any people who don't belong to any estate", but I believe this is technically incorrect: the monarch doesn't belong to any estate. -- Jmabel | Talk 06:27, 1 November 2005 (UTC)
Ouch, you caught me over-simplifying there: yes, the monarch is outside the system. -_-;
I guess what I'll do is try to write a stand-alone Three Estates as a first step, without touching the existing articles or links until that's finished and it's clear what needs to be redirected where. It may be that that itself should be a subsidiary article of something broader. Needs more thought. — Haeleth Talk 15:42, 1 November 2005 (UTC)
Good plan. -- Jmabel | Talk 06:13, 2 November 2005 (UTC)

I also notice that 98% Third Estate and 2% Second Estate leaves no room for X% First Estate. Fix?Mzmadmike 17:49, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Merger proposal[edit]

These pages are all kinds of the same: First Estate, Second Estate, Third Estate. Fourth Estate is the same, too, except for its modern meaning. Also The_States, and Ancien Régime. Maybe others, too. Ewlyahoocom 12:12, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

If you have others in mind, please name them; it's easier to comment on a more precise proposal.
First Estate, Second Estate, and Third Estate could reasonably be merged here, as could The States. If we do that, we have to make sure we get all of those terms, bolded, in the lead.
I'm a little less enthusiastic about merging Ancien Régime, but wouldn't object if there is consensus to do so.
I'm wary of merging Fourth Estate. As commented two years ago (!) on its talk page, "I think… [[[Fourth Estate]]] …could profitably be expanded from a mere origin-of-the-term to discuss the emergence of the political power of the press with the dawn of the modern era (i.e., from the time of Gutenberg onward). However, I personally don't have the inclination to write that article in the near future." Nor, apparently the medium future. I still think it is an article we should have, I still think it is the right title. Merging here would make that much less likely. -- Jmabel | Talk 08:58, 4 January 2006 (UTC)
We must separate the social institution of estate (of the realm) from the political institution of the States or States-General. If there is a need to merge the States with anything, it is with States-General. I would prefere to keep them too separate. -- Petri Krohn 14:52, 5 January 2006 (UTC)
I have no problem with keeping The States separate. -- Jmabel | Talk 21:58, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
Diet of Finland is an article about a similar institution, and it can't be merged here. Interlinking and clarification should be done so that The States refers to Estates of the realm for the meaning of the estates. What I don't get is the inability to understand that there are other than "clergy-nobility-all others" systems. --Vuo 15:08, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

The Estates of the realm are just one aspect of the Ancien Régime—an expression indissolubly linked to France, but sometimes extended by analogy to pre-French Revolutionary regimes elsewhere, i.e. Austrian Netherlands, but not to Britain, Italy or even Russia. You can't just merge Ancien Régime with Estates of the Realm any more than you could merge it with Parlement, Estates General etc. --Wetman 08:50, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

I think Wetman is correct here. Can we drop that particular proposed merge? -- Jmabel | Talk 00:59, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

It looks like someone went ahead and merged: dropping information, and ignoring some of the foregoing discussion. I'm trying to clean up the mess, but I just noticed this 20 minutes ago, and it's 01:00 here. If someone else wants to take a look at this, that would be welcome. -- Jmabel | Talk 09:04, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

I've now cleaned up the French material here, reverted States-General (which was redirected here without merging its content), and moved in a short discussion of the end of the system of Estates in France (shortened from a text that previously resided at First Estate, Second Estate, and Third Estate, all of which are now redirects to this page. -- Jmabel | Talk 09:40, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

Sorry if you think I've done a bad job on the merge -- the original pages were a bit of a mess and Wiki doesn't provide the best merging/refactoring tools. I don't think I touched States-General. If you mean The States, I don't see any clear consensus on it here, that page is rather short, and unless I'm missing something doesn't really add any new information. Ewlyahoocom 10:36, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
Yes, I did mean The States. Sorry if I sounded a little peeved there. I found this just as I was about to call it a night. Anyway, I think it is OK now.
See Petri Krohn's remark above for why The States shouldn't redirect here. -- Jmabel | Talk 06:10, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
Well, I guess I'm still not clear on the concept. May I suggest a rewrite of that page? As it stands now it's really just a single sentence (the second paragraph, all 2 sentences of it, is a rehash of Estates of the Realm) and a list of links to "examples". Also, isn't there any better name for it than "The States"? Unless that's some kind of official name it could appear to be in conflict with naming convetions against A/An/The. If "The States" is official, then perhaps that could also be explained on that page. Ewlyahoocom 07:40, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
I'll look into what might be done with a quick rewrite, but the name "The States" is correct: this is a case where the definite article is an inherent part of the name. -- Jmabel | Talk 06:11, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
Let's continue any discussion at Talk:The States, because the remaining issues are only tangentially related to the present page. -- Jmabel | Talk 06:32, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

It has been years since merger was discussed. Consensus can change. Also, my merger proposal is more narrow in scope. The Estates covers exactly the same concept as Estates of the realm. Estates of the realm appears more developed, so I am proposing that The Estates be merged into Estates of the realm. Squideshi (talk) 20:50, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

It has been 21 days since I proposed merger. I haven't seen any objections. Have I missed any? Squideshi (talk) 21:49, 22 February 2010 (UTC)
The States and Estates of the realm are not the same thing. It is like comparing class society to parliament! -- Petri Krohn (talk) 15:58, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
I'm wholly against merging Estates of the realm for the reasons given above. "The States" is often the name of an assembly (e.g. The States of Jersey); Estates of the realm are not assemblies qua assemblies, but de jure or de facto bodies of power, whether the in fact assemble at all. similarly the other proposals for merging Fourth Estate, First Estate, and so on, seem to miss the fact there are different aspects of each subject. Si Trew (talk) 16:13, 24 July 2010 (UTC)


"To no estate belonged propertyless farmers, farmhands, servants, travelling salesmen, vagrants, parasites." What is the basis for saying "parasites" here? The term is a judgment, not a station in life. One could as easily argue (and many have) the the clergy and nobility are "parasites" as anyone else. - Jmabel | Talk 07:57, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

I have not found any other term for the people who don't own property, don't have a family, or possess any skills that would guarantee a livelihood despite this. The result was that these people would live in other peoples' houses, without contributing much to the household. "Vagrancy" involves lack of housing, but being a "servant" implies a contribution to running the household. --Vuo 17:47, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

At the very least, "parasites" should be in scare quotes and we should cite who used this very judgmental term. - Jmabel | Talk 00:09, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

Contradiction in place of monarch[edit]

The second paragraph of the introduction claims that the monarch does not fit into any Estate. The first paragraph of the Second Estate claims that he falls under the first. If I have time to research, I'll sort this out myself. If anyone has more knowledge of the subject (that shouldn't be too hard), please pick a place for the king. Thanks.

Also, the sections on both the First and Second Estates note that they carried no tax burden. The Third Estate makes no mention of the burden placed on them at all. Considering that the first two shouldered no responsibility, this would place it on the Third, wouldn't it? I don't know enough about 18th-century socioeconomic structures to make an informed contribution here.

--LarryMColeman 08:17, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

Lord! (so to speak). I presume we are just talking France here.
I do not know where the claim comes from that the monarch was in the First Estate. It's just barely possible, but it would go against my reasonably extensive reading (I'm reasonably clueful in this area, but not expert). There is no citation, but in general this article is undercited.
It is only vaguely accurate to say that the first two estates paid no taxes, though they certainly did not pay what much anyone would call a fair share. The Church made a large "voluntary donation" to the royal treasury every year; nobles rendered various services and money, I don't have the details offhand. But, yes, the bulk of taxes fell on the Third Estate. Follow up the links from Glossary of the French Revolution#Ancien régime taxes and you'll get a lot of information. - Jmabel | Talk 00:53, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
Further remark: I truly do not see how an absolute monarch could have been part of one of the estates. - Jmabel | Talk 00:58, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
I agree that the King couldn't really be part of any estate, from what i can gather from my studies recently is that the estates were really only for divisions in the Estates General, so the King couldn't be a part of it. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Ursper (talkcontribs) 13 December 2006.

What about...[edit]

...the Dutch Estates-General? Or was that a fluke? 00:00, 5 May 2007 (UTC)

No link to the French page[edit]

Isn't it ironic? And I don't know how to add... Chevrox 04:14, 8 November 2007 (UTC)


This article claims that this form of sociery was in all Europe. I`m do not have data but i do not think that kingdoms/empiers such as Early Germanic Kingdoms(in places such as Italy)/The Republic of Venice/Genoa/Alaina(or Alanian Kingdom)/Tatar Crimeea/Kievan Pricipality/The Byzantine Empire/Sicilian Emirate/Early Leon/Vizigothic Spain/Pre-Hastings British Iles/Serbia/Bosnia/Bulgaian I,II/Defensive Marks(Early Basarabia,Andorra,etc.)/Pre-Livonian Baltic States/Armenia/Georgia/The Khazar Khanate and many more where implementing the sistem in such way as in the west,at least not as an official policy as in western countrys,in plus, in the Republic of Novgorod or Al-Andaluz such devisions of society would seem at least strange.So until some proof,argument or source i am changing it to "some parts of Europe"! AdrianCo (talk) 19:36, 6 December 2007 (UTC)AdrianCo

7:06 P.M. E.S.T. I am conducting research about Lancaster as in Lancashire England. It is stated and for now please perdon me for not haveing the presice literature of this, that aster in Lancaster represented a Center. My reseach as of 8-3-2008 has the relaxed thought of my finding of Caste adopted in the 16th century or perhaps the 1600's again sorry about the detail, that should be found easy enough.

My calculation and just that for now is and in research, that reading it it defines a Caste as a represented Nobility of sort. Though in persute i was i notice that there had been location activity. King John Married his Queen her Last name was DeQuincey perhaps without the e and the King haveing relation towards the DeLacy's and or Delacie sometimes with an s in early time, leaves me to the study of performed nameing of Lancaster, again before their Reign Lancashire and was that for quite some time, the research for Shire was indeed Interesting a year or so ago. Collecting Knowledge is a surety allthough if not haveing it at your fingure tips can lead to informities, or a sugjested acusation from thought towards theory, for those in thought who's acusation towards one's theory which had been advanced could still be in Question. Perhaps a caste is a subject in massive qualification.

tallent has been interupted and staus here is going elswhere, till next time.

7:18 P.M. E.S.T.David George DeLancey (talk) 23:19, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

own project?[edit]

should this and the subsidiary articles have their own project now? Weve done some subbing at fourth and fifth estate and while not perfect are probably not accused of being too french now (and i translate french articles but not this one). It would obviously be a small project, like this main article and its five estates in it, but it seems to be a trend on WP to group these things together that way. Opinions? SimonTrew (talk) 14:34, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

See Also overkill[edit]

The see also section of this article is almost comical in its overkill. I understand the desire to include articles that have some relation to the article here, but listing every government that makes reference to estates is a bit much. Perhaps a page with governments that make such use should be created and serve as a single "see also" link to cut down on the excessive links. See Also would seem to be the appropriate place to list concepts at a similar level of abstraction rather than laundry lists of specific instances. (talk) 18:13, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

Some issues[edit]

This article is quite inadequate. It conflates two separate, but related ideas - first the idea of "estates" as a kind of legally defined status for individuals in the medieval and early modern state; and second the idea of those estates assembled together as parliaments. We currently have the ludicrous statement that

Two medieval parliaments derived their name from the estates of the realm:

This is just wrong. An enormous number of medieval parliaments derived their name from the estates of the realm. Just in some recent reading I've come across the estates of Lower Austria, for example. Not to mention the States-General of the Netherlands. More importantly, "Estates" is used by historians as a kind of general term for medieval/early modern parliaments of this sort. This article gives little sense of this. This is a very important concept, and it doesn't seem like wikipedia has an article about it. This article is mostly about estates as social classes, Diet (assembly) is about English usage of the term "Diet" for an assembly, Parliament is much too broad.

I'm also pretty down on this title. "Of the realm" is incredibly amateurish. john k (talk) 05:58, 13 September 2010 (UTC)

Playing cards...[edit]

There could be some mention of the correlation of playing card suits to the estates of the realm vis.

  • Clubs : villeins
  • Diamonds: merchants
  • Hearts: clergy
  • Spades: nobility

20040302 (talk) 16:10, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

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