Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Estates Satire

Any anatomy of the social world which describes it in terms of "estates" is an ES. The form flourished during the Middle Ages. As far as medieval Britain was concerned, society could be divided into three traditional estates: Lords Spiritual, Lords Temporal and the Commons, with women of all categories at the bottom. The Press was dubbed the Fourth Estate by Edmund Burke (1729-1797). At least in medieval times, the ES was written as a challenge not to the concept of a hierarchical society (see Theodicy), or with any intention of unravelling in a social sense the Great Chain of Being, but to reprobate individuals who failed to act according to the requirements laid down for them by their position within the estates structure; for example, the mode provides the controlling context for the morality play Ane Pleasant Satire of the Thrie Estaitis (1540) by Sir David Lindsay (1486-1555), which specifically targets the clergy. [JC]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.