the basic administrative unit of 17th- and 18th-century France. It was first established in the late 14th century to organize the collection of royal revenues. In the 15th century, four generalites covered most of France. An edict of 1542 established their number at 16, each under a receveur ("receiver") general (from which the unit took its name).
Learn more about generalite with a free trial on Britannica.com.