Estates General

The Estates General is the representative assembly of the kingdom of France. It is composed of representatives, called deputies, selected from each of the three estates, the clergy (First Estate), the nobility (Second Estate), and the commoners (Third Estate), with the latter including everyone from the poorest itinerant laborer to the wealthiest bourgeois. In the royal domaine, deputies are selected at the level of the parish or bailiwick; in provinces such as Provence or Brittany with the right to summon their own Estates General, the provincial body selects the deputies to attend the royal assembly. The deputies may present a list of grievances (cahiers de doléances) to the king, seeking redress, relief, or reform. As may be expected, these are most often related to either taxes or privilege. The king is under no legal obligation to respond to these grievances as the Estates General cannot impose legislation on the monarchy, but the failure to give them due consideration can result in dangerous civil unrest. The most recent Estates General was summoned in 1614.


Estates General

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