The Estates

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For other uses, see Estate (disambiguation).

The Estates or the States (French: États, German: Landstände, Dutch: Staten) was the assembly of the representatives of the estates of the realm, the divisions of society in feudal times, called together for purposes of deliberation, legislation or taxation. A meeting of the estates that covered an entire kingdom was called an estates general.

In many states, the first estate comprised the clergymen, the second estate the nobility, and the third estate the commoners (bourgeoisie, artisans and peasants). The actual representation of these three estates in the assembly could vary from country to country. Bourgeoisie, peasants and people with no estate from birth were separated in Sweden and Finland as late as in 1905.

In some countries, the parliament kept the same name when its feudal organization was replaced with a more modern kind of representation, like census or universal suffrage. In Sweden, the Riksdag of the Estates was replaced with the Riksdag in 1866.

List of estates[edit]