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Third Estate

In the age of the French Revolution, the term Third Estate (tiers état) indicated the generality of people which were not part of the nobility (the First Estate[?]) nor of the clergy (the Second Estate[?]). These terms came from the name of the French General States, a rough equivalent to the British Parliament but with no actual powers. However, in May 1789, Louis XVI convened the Estates-General, upon which the Third Estate asked for all estates to meet together. When Louis XVI did not respond, the Third Estate declared itself the National Assembly (inviting representatives of the other two estates) and signed the Tennis Court Oath demanding a constitution for France. Shortly thereafter, in response to possible military attack of the Estates-General, the people stormed the Bastille prison in Paris, starting the French Revolution.

Since the representatives of the Third Estate actually came from the wealthy upper bourgeoisie, sometimes the term meaning has been restricted to the middle class, as opposed to the working class (also called the Fourth Estate[?]).

What's the current world situation of the Third Estate?

see also:

-- Somebody should do something to disambiguate the two Fourth Estates.

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