Monday, March 17, 2008
The estate system
The estate system is synonymous with Feudalism. The feudal estates had three important characteristics .In the first place they were legally defined; each estate had a status with legal rights and duties, privileges and obligations. Secondly the estates represented a broad division of labor and were regarded as having definite functions. The nobility were ordained to defend all, the clergy to pray for all and the commons to provide food for all. Thirdly the feudal estates were political groups. An assembly of estates possessed political power. From this point of view the serfs did not constitute an estate until 12th century. This period saw the emergence of third estate -burghers who were a distinctive group within the system. Thus the three estates -clergy, nobility and commoners functioned like three political groups.