Constitutional Father: Abbe Sieyes Emmanuel

Constitutional Father: Abbe Sieyes Emmanuel Joseph Sieyes, better known as Abbe Sieyes, is considered by some scholars, the leader of the early Revolution in France; however, others consider him a selfish, jealous man. No matter what one believes, there are some indisputable facts about Abbe Sieyes. Emmanuel Joseph Sieyes was born on May 3rd, 1748 in Frejus. His father was a postmaster and collector of king’s dues, while his mother was connected to the lower ranks of nobility. Sieyes’ parents gave him the best education they could afford, first at home under a tutor, then in the Jesuits’ College at Frejus. Most graduates of the college attended military academies and Sieyes expected the same, but was forced into a different occupation. Emmanuel’s parents pushed him into Holy Orders in the hope that he would support the family, especially his two brothers. The Bishop of Frejus was a family friend and helped Emmanuel’s parents send him to Paris to study at the Seminary of St. Sulpice. His studies lasted for ten years and he was ordained a priest in 1773. Two years after his ordination, Abbe Sieyes became secretary to the Bishop of Treguier. His advancement in the priesthood was hindered of course, because he came from a middle-class family that lacked nobility. Then in 1784, he became vicar general and chancellor to the Bishop of Chartres. Abbe Sieyes then became a member of the Provincial Assembly of Orleans in 1787. When the Estates General was called in late 1788, Abbe Sieyes wrote his most famous pamphlet, Qu’est-ce que le Tiers Etat? “What is the Third Estate?” With its publishing in January 1789, Sieyes became a prominent figure at the Estates General. On June 12, 1789, Sieyes brought about the vote to allow the privileged to join the Third. Then on June 17, he brought about the vote that transformed the Third into the National Assembly. One year later, Sieyes was voted president of the Assembly and of the Ja…

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