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revolution french assembly king

Estates-General, or States-General, French national assembly (first summoned in 1302) composed of representatives from the 3 “estates” or social classes: clergy, nobility, and commoners. During most of its existence it was an advisory body with little legislative power, and in fact it did not meet between 1614, when it was dismissed by King Louis XIII, and 1789, when it was called into session by King Louis XVI on the eve of the French Revolution. Traditionally each estate met and voted as a separate house, but in 1789 the 3rd estate declared itself a national assembly, each member having one vote. It was this decision that inaugurated the revolution.

See also: French Revolution.

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