Monday, January 25, 2010


Estates of the realm were the broad divisions of society, usually distinguishing nobility, clergy, and commoners recognized in the Middle Ages and later, in some parts of Europe. While various realms inverted the order of the first two, commoners were universally tertiary, and often further divided into burghers (also known as bourgeoisie) and peasants; in some regions, there also was a population outside the estates. An estate was usually inherited and based on occupation, similar to a caste.
Legislative bodies or advisory bodies to a monarch were traditionally grouped along lines of these estates, with the monarch above all three estates. Meetings of the estates of the realm became early legislative and judicial parliaments (see The States). Two medieval parliaments derived their name from the estates of the realm:
the primarily tricameral Estates-General (French: États-Généraux) of the Kingdom of France (the analogue to the bicameral Parliament of England but with no constitutional tradition of vested powers, the French monarchy remaining absolute); and
the unicameral Estates of Parliament, also known as the Three Estates (Scots: Thrie Estaitis), the parliament of the Kingdom of Scotland (which had more power over the monarch than the French assembly, but less than the English one), and its sister institution the Convention of Estates of Scotland.
Monarchs often sought to legitimize their power by requiring oaths of fealty from the estates.
France under the Ancien Régime (before the French Revolution) divided society into three estates: the First Estate (clergy); the Second Estate (nobility); and the Third Estate (commoners). The king was considered part of no estate.
First Estate
The First Estate comprised the entire clergy, traditionally divided into "higher" and "lower" clergy. Although there was no formal demarcation between the two categories, the upper clergy were, effectively, clerical nobility, from the families of the Second Estate. In the time of Louis XVI, every bishop in France was a nobleman, a situation that had not existed before the 18th century.[1] At the other extreme, the "lower clergy" ( about equally divided between parish priests and monks and nuns) constituted about 90 percent of the First Estate, which in 1789 numbered around 130,000 (about 0.5% of the population).
In principle, the responsibilities of the First Estate included the registration of births, marriages and deaths. They collected the tithe (dîme, usually 10 percent); served as moral guides; operated schools and hospitals; and distributed relief to the poor. They also owned 10 percent of all the land in France, which was exempt from property tax.[1] The church did however pay the state a so-called "free gift" known as a don gratuit, which was collected via the décime, a tax on ecclesiastic offices.
The French inheritance system of primogeniture meant that nearly all French fortunes would pass largely in a single line, through the eldest son. Hence, it became very common for second sons to join the clergy. Although some dedicated churchmen came out of this system, much of the higher clergy continued to live the lives of aristocrats, enjoying the wealth derived from church lands and tithes and, in some cases, paying little or no attention to their pastoral duties. The ostentatious wealth of the higher clergy was, no doubt, partly responsible for the widespread anticlericalism in France, dating back as far as the Middle Ages, and was certainly responsible for the element of class resentment within the anticlericalism of many peasants and wage-earners.
The first estates had to pay no taxes to the second and third estates.
Similar class resentments existed within the First Estate.
During the latter years of the Ancien Régime, the Catholic Church in France (the Gallican Church) was a separate entity within the realm of Papal control, both a State within a State and Church within a Church. The King had the right to make appointments to the bishoprics, abbeys, and priories and the right to regulate the clergy.[2]
[edit] Second Estate
The Second Estate (Fr. deuxieme état) was the French nobility(or any man who owned land) and (technically, though not in common use) royalty, other than the monarch himself, who stood outside of the system of estates.
The Second Estate is traditionally divided into "noblesse de robe" ("nobility of the robe"), the magisterial class that administered royal justice and civil government, and "noblesse d'épée" ("nobility of the sword").
The Second Estate constituted approximately 1.5% of France's population.[citation needed] Under the ancien régime, the Second Estate were exempt from the corvée royale (forced labour on the roads) and from most other forms of taxation such as the gabelle (salt tax) and most important, the taille (the oldest form of direct taxation). This exemption from paying taxes led to their reluctance to reform.
The French nobility was not a closed class, and many means were available to rich land owners or state office holders for gaining nobility for themselves or their descendants.
Noblemen shared honorary privileges such as the right to display their unique coat of arms and the prestige right to wear a sword. This helped to reinforce the idea of their natural superiority. They could also collect taxes from the third estate called feudal dues; this was to be for the third estate's protection.
[edit] Third Estate
The Third Estate (Fr. tiers état) was the generality of people which were not part of the other estates.
The Third Estate comprised all those not members of the above and can be divided into two groups, urban and rural. The urban included the bourgeoisie, as well as wage-labor (such as craftsmen). The rural includes the peasantry, or the farming class. The Third Estate includes some of what would now be considered middle class - e.g. the budding town bourgeoisie. What united the third estate is that most had little or no wealth and yet were forced to pay disproportionately high taxes to the other estates.
[edit] The French Estates General
See main articles French Estates General, Estates General of 1789
The first Estates General (not to be confused with a "class of citizen") was actually a general citizen assembly that was called by Philip IV in 1302.
In the period leading up to the Estates General of 1789, France was in the grip of an unmanageable public debt and terrible inflation and food scarcity. This led to widespread popular discontent and produced a group of third estate representatives pressing a comparatively radical set of reforms - much of it in alignment with the goals of finance minister Jacques Necker but very much against the wishes of Louis XVI's court and many of the hereditary nobles forming the second estate. Louis sought to dissolve the estates general after they refused to accept his agenda, but the third estate held out for their right to representation. The lower clergy (and some nobles and upper clergy) eventually sided with the third estate, and the king was forced to yield. The States-General was reconstituted first as the National Assembly (June 17, 1789) and then as the National Constituent Assembly (July 9, 1789), a unitary body composed of the former representatives of the three estates.
In Scotland
The members of the parliament of Scotland were collectively referred to as the Three Estates (Scots: Thrie Estaitis), know as:community of the realm composed of:
the first estate of prelates (bishops and abbots)
the second estate of lairds (dukes, earls, parliamentary peers (after 1437) and lay tenants-in-chief)
the third estate of burgh commissioners (representatives chosen by the royal burghs)
From the 16th century, the second estate was reorganised by the selection of Shire Commissioners: this has been argued to have created a fourth estate. During the 17th century, after the Union of the Crowns, a fifth estate of royal office holders (see Lord High Commissioner to the Parliament of Scotland) has been identified as well. These latter identifications remain highly controversial among parliamentary historians. Regardless, the term used for the assembled members continued to be 'the Three Estates'.
A Shire Commissioner was the closest equivalent of the English office of Member of Parliament, namely a commoner or member of the lower nobility. Because the parliament of Scotland was unicameral, all members sat in the same chamber, as opposed to the separate English House of Lords and House of Commons.
The Parliament also had University constituencies (see Ancient universities of Scotland). The system was also adopted by the Parliament of England when James VI ascended to the English throne. It was believed that the universities were affected by the decisions of Parliament and ought therefore to have representation in it. This continued in the Parliament of Great Britain after 1707 and the Parliament of the United Kingdom until 1950.
In Sweden and Finland
The Estates in Sweden and Finland were the two higher estates nobility, clergy and the two lower estates burghers and land-owning peasants. Each were free men, and had specific rights and responsibilities, and the right to send representatives to the governing assembly, the Riksdag of the Estates in Sweden and the Diet of Finland (only after 1809), respectively. Also, there was a population outside the estates; unlike in other areas, people had no "default" estate, and were not peasants unless they came from a land-owner's family. A summary of this division is:
Nobility (see Finnish nobility and Swedish nobility) is exempt from tax, has an inherited rank and the right to keep a fief, and has a tradition of military service and government. Nobility was established in 1279 with the Swedish king granted tax-free status (frälse) to peasants who could equip a cavalryman (or be one themselves) in the king's army. Initially, exemption from tax was not inherited, but it became hereditary in 1544. Following Axel Oxenstierna's reform, government positions were open only to nobles. However, the nobility still owned only their own property, not the peasants or their land as in much of Europe. Heads of the noble houses were hereditary members of the assembly of nobles.
Clergy, or priests, were exempt from tax, and collected tithes for the church. After the Reformation, the church became Lutheran. In later centuries, the estate included teachers of universities and certain state schools. The estate was governed by the state church which consecrated its ministers and appointed them to positions with a vote in choosing diet representatives.
Burghers are city-dwellers, tradesmen and craftsmen. Trade was allowed only in the cities when the mercantilistic ideology had got the upper hand, and the burghers had the exclusive right to conduct commerce. Entry to this Estate is controlled by the autonomy of the towns themselves. Peasants were allowed to sell their produce within the city limits, but any further trade, particularly foreign trade, was allowed only for burghers. In order for a settlement to become a city, a royal charter granting market right was required, and foreign trade required royally chartered staple port rights. After the annexation of Finland into Imperial Russia in 1809, mill-owners and other proto-industrialists would gradually be included in this estate.
Peasants are land-owners of land-taxed farms and their families, which represented the majority in medieval times. Since most of the population were independent farmer families until 19th century, not serfs nor villeins, there is a remarkable difference in tradition compared to other European countries. Entry was controlled by ownership of farmland, which was not generally for sale but a hereditary property. After 1809, tenants renting a large enough farm (ten times larger than what was required of peasants owning their own farm) were included as well as non-nobility owning tax-exempt land.
To no estate belonged propertyless cottagers, villeins, tenants of farms owned by others, farmhands, servants, some lower administrative workers, rural craftsmen, travelling salesmen, vagrants, and propertyless and unemployed people (who sometimes lived in strangers' houses). To reflect how the people belonging to the estates saw them, the Finnish word for "obscene", säädytön, has the literal meaning "estateless".
In Sweden, the Riksdag of the Estates existed until it was replaced with a bicameral Riksdag in 1866, which gave political rights to anyone with a certain income or property. Nevertheless, many of the leading politicians of the 19th century continued to be drawn from the old estates, in that they were either noblemen themselves, or represented agricultural and urban interests. Ennoblements continued even after the estates had lost their political importance, with the last ennoblement (Sven Hedin) in 1902. This practice was discontinued with the adoption of the new Constitution in 1974, while the status of the House of Lords continued to be regulated in law until 2003.
In Finland, this legal division existed until the modern age. However, at the start of the 20th century, most of the population did not belong to any Estate and had no political representation. A particularly large class were the rent farmers, who did not own the land they cultivated, but had to work in the land-owner's farm to pay their rent. (Unlike Russia, there were no slaves or serfs.) Furthermore, the industrial workers living in the city were not represented by the four-estate system. The political system was reformed, and the last Diet was dissolved in 1905, to create the modern parliamentary system, ending the political privileges of the estates. The constitution of 1919 forbade giving new noble ranks, and all tax privileges were abolished in 1920. The privileges of the estates were officially and finally abolished in 1995,[2] although in legal practice, the privileges had long been unenforceable. However, the nobility has never been officially abolished and records of nobility are still voluntarily maintained by the Finnish House of Nobility.
Nevertheless, the old traditions and in particular ownership of property changed slowly, and the rent-farmer problem became so severe that it was a major cause to the Finnish Civil War. Although the division became irrelevant following the establishment of a parliamentary democracy and political parties, industrialization and urbanization, it might be possible to claim that their traditions live on in the political parties of Sweden and Finland, in the sense that there are parties that have traditionally represented upper-class and business interests (Moderate Party and Coalition Party) and farmers (the Centre Parties of Sweden and Finland).[citation needed]
In Finland, it is still illegal and punishable by jail time (up to one year) to defraud into marriage by declaring a false name or estate (Rikoslaki 18 luku § 1/Strafflagen 18 kap. § 1).
[edit] In the Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire had the Imperial Diet. The clergy was represented by the independent prince-bishops, prince-archbishops and abbots of the many monasteries. The nobility consisted of independent aristocratic rulers: secular electors, kings, dukes, margraves, counts and others. Burghers consisted of representatives of the independent imperial cities. Many peoples whose territories within the Holy Roman Empire had been independent for centuries had no representatives in the Imperial Diet, and this included the imperial knights and independent villages. The power of the Imperial Diet was limited, despite efforts of centralization.
Large realms of the nobility or clergy had estates of their own that could wield great power in local affairs. Power struggles between ruler and estates were comparable to similar events in the history of the British and French parliaments.
The Swabian League, a significant regional power in its part of Germany during the 15th Century, also had its own kind of Estates, a governing Federal Council comprising three Colleges: those of Princes, Cities, and Knights.
[edit] In the Russian Empire
Main article: Social estates in the Russian Empire
In late Russian Empire the estates were called sosloviyes. The four major estates were: nobility (dvoryanstvo), clergy, rural dwellers, and urban dwellers, with a more detailed stratification therein. The division in estates was of mixed nature: traditional, occupational, as well as formal: for example, voting in Duma was carried out by estates. Russian Empire Census recorded the reported estate of a person.
In Catalonia
Main article: Catalan Parliament
The Parliament of Catalonia (Corts Catalanes) was established in 1283, according to American historian Thomas Bisson, and it has been considered by several historians as a model of medieval parliament. For instance, English historian of constitutionalism Charles Howard McIlwain wrote that the Parliament of Catalonia, during the XIV century, had a more defined organization and met more regularly than the parliaments of England or France.[3].
The roots of the parliament institution in Catalonia stem from the Sanctuary and Truce Assemblies (assemblees de pau i treva) that started on the XI century. The members of the parliament of Catalonia were organized in the Three Estates (Catalan: Tres Braços):
the "military estate" (braç militar) with representatives of the feudal nobility
the "ecclesiastical estate" (braç eclesiàstic) with representatives of the religious hierarchy
the "royal estate" (braç reial) with representatives of the free municipalities under royal privilege
The parliament institution was abolished in 1716 after the invasion and annexation of Catalonia by the Kingdom of Castille, together with the rest of institutions of Catalonia, after the War of the Spanish Succession.
The fourth wall refers to the imaginary "wall" at the front of the stage in a proscenium theatre, through which the audience sees the action in the world of the play.[1][2] The term also applies to the boundary between any fictional setting and its audience. When this boundary is "broken" (for example by an actor speaking to the audience directly through the camera in a television program or film), it is called "breaking the fourth wall."[1][3]
The term was made explicit by Denis Diderot and spread in nineteenth century theatre with the advent of theatrical realism.[4] The critic Vincent Canby described it in 1987 as "that invisible screen that forever separates the audience from the stage."[5]
The term "fourth wall" stems from the absence of a fourth wall on a three-walled set where the audience is viewing the production. The audience is supposed to assume there is a "fourth wall" present, even though it physically is not there.[2] This is widely noticeable on various television programs, such as sitcoms, but the term originated in theatre, where conventional three-walled stage sets provide a more obvious "fourth wall".[3] The term "fourth wall" has been adapted to refer to the boundary between the fiction and the audience. "Fourth wall" is part of the suspension of disbelief between a fictional work and an audience. The audience will accept the presence of the fourth wall without giving it any direct thought, allowing them to enjoy the fiction as if they were observing real events.[2] The presence of a fourth wall is an established convention of fiction and drama, this has led some artists to draw direct attention to it for dramatic or comedic effect. This is known as "breaking the fourth wall".[1]
[edit] Fifth wall
The term "fifth wall" has been used as a derivative of the fourth wall, referring to the "the invisible wall between critics and readers and theatre practitioners."[6] This conception led to a series of workshops at the Globe Theatre in 2004 designed to help break the fifth wall.[7] The term has also been used to refer to "that semi-porous membrane that stands between individual audience members during a shared experience".[8] In media, the television set has been described metaphorically as a fifth wall because of how it allows a person to see beyond the traditional four walls of a room[9][10] A different usage of the term has described the fifth wall as the screen on which images are projected in shadow theatre.[11]
Fourth Estate is a term referring to the press. In this sense the term goes back at least to Thomas Carlyle in 1841, who in turn attributed it, possibly erroneously, to a coining by Edmund Burke during a parliamentary debate in 1792 on the opening up of press reporting of the House of Commons. Earlier writers have applied the term to lawyers, to the queen of England, acting on her own account distinct from the power of the king, and to "the mob".
Primary meaning
The term in current use is now appropriated to "the Press",[1] with the earliest use in this sense found in Thomas Carlyle's book On Heroes and Hero Worship (1841) in which he wrote:
Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters' Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all. [Italics added][2]
Burke's reference would have been to the traditional three estates of Parliament: The Lords Spiritual, the Lords Temporal and the Commons.[3] If, indeed, Burke did make the statement Carlyle attributes to him, his remark may have been in the back of Carlyle's mind when he wrote in his French Revolution (1837), "A Fourth Estate, of Able Editors, springs up; increases and multiplies, irrepressible, incalculable."[4] In this context, the other three estates are those of the French States-General: the church, the nobility and the townsmen.[3] Carlyle, however, may have mistaken his attribution: Thomas Macknight, writing in 1858, observes that Burke was merely a teller at the "illustrious nativity of the Fourth Estate".[5] Other candidates for coining the term are Henry Brougham speaking in Parliament in 1823 or 1824,[1] and Thomas Macaulay in an essay of 1827,[6] again in the context of the parliamentary press.
Author Oscar Wilde wrote:
In old days men had the rack. Now they have the press. That is an improvement certainly. But still it is very bad, and wrong, and demoralizing. Somebody — was it Burke? — called journalism the fourth estate. That was true at the time no doubt. But at the present moment it is the only estate. It has eaten up the other three. The Lords Temporal say nothing, the Lords Spiritual have nothing to say, and the House of Commons has nothing to say and says it. We are dominated by Journalism.[7]
[edit] Alternative meanings
[edit] The law
The term Fourth Estate was used in the early seventeenth century to propose that a government should hold in check a fourth estate of lawyers selling justice to the rich and denying it to a rightful litigant who cannot buy a verdict:
What is more barbarous than to see a nation [...] where justice is lawfully denied him, that hath not wherewithall to pay for it; and that this merchandize hath so great credit, that in a politicall government there should be set up a fourth estate [tr. Latin: quatriesme estat] of Lawyers, breathsellers and pettifoggers [...].
—John Florio , 1603[8]
The proletariat
An early citation for this is Henry Fielding in The Covent Garden Journal (1752):
None of our political writers...take notice of any more than three estates, namely, Kings, Lords, and Commons..passing by in silence that very large and powerful body which form the fourth estate in this community...The Mob.[9]
(This is an early use of "mob" to mean the mobile vulgus, the common masses.)
This sense has prevailed in other countries: In Italy, for example, striking workers in 1890s Turin were depicted as Il quarto stato—The Fourth Estate—in a painting by Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo.[10] A political journal of the left, Quarto Stato, published in Milan, Italy, in 1926, also reflected this meaning.[11] The English queen
In a parliamentary debate of 1789 M.P. Thomas Powys demanded of minister William Pitt that he should not allow powers of regency to "a fourth estate: the queen". This account comes to us in the journalism of Burke who, as noted above, apparently was the first to use the phrase in its later meaning of "press".[12]
In his novel The Fourth Estate Jeffrey Archer made the observation: "In May 1789, Louis XVI summoned to Versailles a full meeting of the 'Estates General'. The First Estate consisted of three hundred clergy. The Second Estate, three hundred nobles. The Third Estate, six hundred commoners." The book is a fictionalization from episodes in the lives of two real-life press barons: Robert Maxwell and Rupert Murdoch.
Fifth Estate
The term "Fifth Estate" has no fixed meaning, but is used to describe any class or group in society other than the clergy (First Estate), the nobility (Second Estate), the commoners (Third Estate), and the press (Fourth Estate).[1] It has been used to describe trade unions, the poor, the blogosphere and organized crime. It can also be used to describe media outlets that see themselves in opposition to mainstream ("Fourth Estate") media. The term is entirely different in origin and meaning from "Fifth Column", which is used to describe subversive or insurgent elements in a society.
Nimmo and Combs assert that political pundits constitute a Fifth Estate.[2] Media researcher Stephen D. Cooper argues that bloggers are the Fifth Estate.[3] The American periodical Broadcasting once proudly proclaimed itself to be "The Fifth Estate" on its cover.[4]
The Fifth Estate newspaper began in 1965 as an alternative bi-weekly publication of left-wing politics and the arts in Detroit, Michigan, as part of the so-called "underground press" movement of oppositional papers. It continues publishing today with editorial collectives in Detroit; Liberty, Tennessee; New York City; and La Crosse, Wisconsin. Its usage of the name was the first in the modern era and the editors have attempted to discourage other media outlets from adopting the name, but to no avail.[citation needed]
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation airs a newsmagazine called "The Fifth Estate" on its English language television network. The name was chosen to highlight the program's determination to go beyond everyday news into original journalism. And the title for the magazine show was also taken after a previously aired investigative documentary on CBC TV (January 9, 1974) on the CIA and espionage activities of the US and Canada entitled, "The Fifth Estate: The Espionage Establishment." see James Dubro
The Fifth Estate (band) formed in 1963 as The D-Men, but changed their name to The Fifth Estate in 1965 to indicate their part in the underground music movement and to indicate their musical stance as (if not directly in opposition to) at least "different" from and as an alternative to the top 40 musical scene of that time. In spite of this, through the 60s they had several minor hits and a major international hit (done in five languages) with "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead" in 1967.

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