The Third Estate was a social level in pre-revolutionary France. It consisted of the people who were not part of the clergy, which made up the First Estate, or the aristocracy, who made up the second. For the most part, they were peasants, merchants, and laborers; collectively, commoners. The Third Estate was badly overtaxed in order to pay for several wars. The oppression of the Third Estate by the ruling classes of the other two was a direct cause of the French Revolution.