What is estate?
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What Does estate Mean
Estate is a term originating from the Latin stamentum that refers to a stratum of society . Said stratum or group is delimited or defined by a common lifestyle and a social function analogous to all its members.
The division of society into estates was characteristic of the so-called Old Regime and feudalism . The estates were, in general, closed: there was no mobility between one and the other. A person was born and raised within a certain class, without having the possibility of promoting to another. This differentiates the classes of social classes that we know today, which are usually established based on economic criteria and that allow a subject to move from one class to the other.
The estates, however, were not totally closed since, in exceptional circumstances, they accepted social promotion. A monarch , for example, could decree a soldier to join the nobility in recognition of his military services. In this sense, the estates were more open to other social systems, such as castes .
Specifically, in the Middle Ages we can determine that the established estates were the following:
• Nobility. In this group were both kings and counts, dukes and knights. It is important to establish that, for many historians, what came to be known as the Military Aristocracy took a special role within that group. This mission was to undertake the defense and protection of society using arms, and was made up, in hierarchical order, of kings, lords, vassals and sub-vassals.
• Clergy, which was composed of those religious who not only carried out the missions entrusted by the Church but also performed educational and administrative functions. In turn, it was divided into two groups. One of them was the High Clergy, to which Popes, Cardinals, Bishops and Abbots belonged. The second was the Lower Clergy, where the parish priests and monks were.
• Plain town. This was the largest class of those who existed in society at that time. Its members lived in a state of hereditary and permanent servitude. That one was made up of peasants, bourgeois, artisans and villains. Also noteworthy is the fact that he was in charge of tilling the land and also paying taxes.
Within this estate structure we have to emphasize that both the nobility and the clergy were the two groups with privileges that existed and that they had the advantage that they did not pay any type of taxes. Moreover, in many cases, their wealth came precisely from the taxes paid by the peasants, whom they “drowned” with those payments.
The society divided into estates is known as estate society . These companies were hierarchical and limited rights according to the estate. The estate hierarchy found the nobility (whether ecclesiastical or secular) above the bourgeoisie, peasants and artisans.
The dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) recalls that, in the Crown of Aragon , the estates were the states (knights, nobles, etc.) that attended the Cortes.