France vs. England in the 14th Century (the Estates vs. Parliament)

Quoted from The Age of Adversity by Robert E. Lerner

“There are many reasons why the history of the Estates is so strikingly different from that of Parliament. The fact that the Estates were normally called only in major crises made them appear more revolutionary than constitutional and thus alienated the large majority of their potential supporters. Furthermore, the French were more deeply divided than the English not only by class but also by local loyalties. Both the use of free farmers, or yeomen, in the army and the fact that the lesser nobles or knights sat as county representatives alongside the burgesses in the House of Commons are cited as examples of social integration in England that could not be matched in France. There the peasants were rigorously excluded from any but servile occupations and the townspeople were considered social inferiors and political rivals by the nobles. To this social prejudice must be added the fact that provincial loyalties were often stronger than those to the monarchy and that the interests of the northern and southern halves of the country were frequently quite disparate. As a result, the establishment of a unified constitutional opposition was extremely difficult; and the very failure of the Estates, at least by contrast, served to enhance the prestige of the crown.”

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