Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès

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Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès
BirthplaceFréjus, France
Author, clergyman and politician

Sieyès, Emmanuel Joseph


Born May 3, 1748, in Fréjus; died June 20, 1836, in Paris. Figure in the French Revolution.

Before the revolution, Sieyès was an abbé. In 1789 he published the pamphlet What Is the Third Estate? (Russian translation, 1906), in which he criticized feudal absolutism and attempted to substantiate the claims of the bourgeoisie to political dominance. He was elected a deputy from the third estate of Paris to the Estates General of 1789. At his suggestion, a meeting of representatives of the third estate proclaimed itself the National Assembly on June 17, 1789. A contributor to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, Sieyès was one of the founders of the Jacobin Club. In 1789 and 1790 he supported the establishment of property ownership as a qualification for suffrage. In July 1791 he went over to the Feuillants. In subsequent years, as the revolution progressed, he chose not to state his political position precisely. As a member of the National Convention, Sieyès took into account the new alignment of political forces and voted in favor of executing Louis XVI. After the counterrevolutionary Thermidorian coup d’etat of 1794, he became especially active in politics.

Sieyès helped draft the constitution of 1795, which established the Directory in France, and in May 1799 he became a member of the Directory. He helped prepare for the coup d’etat of 18 Brumaire in 1799. Sieyès was one of the three provisional consuls, and in 1800 he became a member of the senate. In 1803 Sieyès was elected a member of the Académie Française. In 1809 he received the title of count. In 1816 he was driven from France for regicide. He returned in 1830.

References in periodicals archive ?
He traces the heightening antireligious sentiment during the French Revolution, interestingly noting how clerical figures, such as Abbe Sieyes, contributed to it.
Did the manifestos of the Abbe Sieyes and Saint-Just have their roots in attitudes that evolved from humanism, Reformation, and the crisis of the seventeenth century?
While his assessment of the nihilism of the right-wing lawyers of the Federalist Society is dead on, the chapter on legal philosophy is a tough read, meandering through John Rawls and Aquinas, Aeschylus and Abbe Sieyes.
Napoleon, upon being appointed First Consul, was told by Abbe Sieyes that Louis had been a tyrant.