(French: "old order / old régime")

The structure of society and politics in France before the Revolution, characterised by a rigid division of the population into three social orders (estates): the Aristocracy, the Church, and the Third Estate (or Commons).

Overlooking the three estates, and dominating them, was the monarchy (absolute since Louis XIV). The entire system was justified by supposed divinely ordained social stratification, and the divine right of kings.

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