Sieyès, Emmanuel Joseph

Sieyès, Emmanuel Joseph

(ĕmänüĕl` zhôzĕf` syāĕs`), 1748–1836, French revolutionary and statesman. He was a clergyman before the Revolution and was known as Abbé Sieyès. His pamphlet Qu'est-ce que le tiers état? [What is the third estate?] (1789), attacking noble and clerical privileges, was popular throughout France, and he was elected deputy from the third estate to the States-General of 1789. He advocated the formation of the national assembly, and participated in the writing of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen and the constitution of 1791 (see French RevolutionFrench Revolution,
political upheaval of world importance in France that began in 1789. Origins of the Revolution

Historians disagree in evaluating the factors that brought about the Revolution.
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). He made his chief contributions in 1789–91 with the theory of national sovereignty and representation, and the distinction between active and passive citizens, which restricted the vote to men of property. As a member of the Convention he voted for the execution of King Louis XVI. His prudent silence enabled him to live through the Reign of Terror, and after the overthrow of Maximilien RobespierreRobespierre, Maximilien Marie Isidore
, 1758–94, one of the leading figures of the French Revolution. Early Life

A poor youth, he was enabled to study law in Paris through a scholarship.
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 on 9 Thermidor (1794), Sieyès again became active in the government. In 1799 he entered the DirectoryDirectory,
group of five men who held the executive power in France according to the constitution of the year III (1795) of the French Revolution. They were chosen by the new legislature, by the Council of Five Hundred and the Council of Ancients; each year one director, chosen
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. Later that year he conspired with Napoleon Bonaparte (see Napoleon INapoleon I
, 1769–1821, emperor of the French, b. Ajaccio, Corsica, known as "the Little Corporal." Early Life

The son of Carlo and Letizia Bonaparte (or Buonaparte; see under Bonaparte, family), young Napoleon was sent (1779) to French military schools at
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) in the overthrow of the Directory by the coup of 18 Brumaire. Sieyès became, with Bonaparte and Roger Ducos, one of the three provisional consuls. His sketch for the constitution of the year VIII was, however, changed in decisive points by Bonaparte, and Sieyès and Ducos were replaced (Dec., 1799) as consuls. He became senator and senator of the empire and, after the Bourbon restoration, lived in exile (1816–30) in Brussels. The name also appears as Sieyes.
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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.

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