tiers 'etat

Tiers \'etat

Tiers` ['e]`tat"\ [F.] The third estate, or commonalty, in France, answering to the commons in Great Britain; -- so called in distinction from, and as inferior to, the nobles and clergy.

Note: The refusal of the clergy and nobility to give the tiers ['e]tat a representation in the States-general proportioned to their actual numbers had an important influence in bringing on the French Revolution of 1789. Since that time the term has been purely historical.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.
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