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Estates General


Under the Ancien régime of France, the national representative assembly of the kingdom. It was composed of elected members of the three orders, the aristocracy, the clergy, and the third order or state -- but no fixed rule was ever followed for their election and assembling. The first authentic meeting was summoned 1302 by Philippe IV, to assist him in his struggle against Pope Boniface VIII. After this date they were convoked at irregular and often very protracted intervals, whenever the royal finances were in a state of extreme distress. In 1357, during the captivity of Jean II in England, they vainly tried to give a constitution to the kingdom.

The États Généreaux, which must not be confounded with the Assembly of Notables, were at all times steady and consistent upholders of the theory that no tax could be valid without their assent. The Monarchy never contested this doctrine, but never followed it in practice. The Estates General of 1614 were the last before the French Revolution.

J. Michael Hayden. France and the Estates General of 1614. Cambridge University Press. 2008. 348pp.

James Russell Major. The Deputies to the Estates General in Renaissance France. University of Wisconsin Press. 1960. 201pp.

Julian Swann. Provincial Power and Absolute Monarchy: The Estates General of Burgundy, 1661-1790. Cambridge University Press. 2003. 460pp.

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