Ancien Régime

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In the strictest sense, the Ancien Régime is the class system that existed within France before the French Revolution. More broadly, it may refer to any similar feudal or absolute monarchist class structure overthrown by bourgeois liberal reform or revolution.


First estate

The first estate refers to the clergy.

Second estate

The second estate refers to the nobility.

Third estate

The third estate refers to everyone without a privileged position. This comprises the serfs, the peasantry, the bourgeoisie, and the proletariat.

Further estates

It is common to describe some group that falls outside of typical political-economic structure as a "fourth estate." Most commonly this is understood to be the press, who are expected to be independent from class interests.