Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Sieyes, EMMANUEL JOSEPH (1748-1836), commonly known as the Abbe Sieyes, the most intellectual of the politicians who took part in the French Revolution, was the son of the director of the post-office at Frejus, where he was born. After receiving his early education from the Jesuits of his native town, he studied philosophy and theology at St. Sulpice, and was appointed vicar-general by the Bishop of Chartres. In response to Necker's invitation to French writers to make known their views concerning the manner of assembling the States-General, he published several political pamphlets, including the famous Qu'est-ce que le Tiers-Etat? (What is the Third Estate?), which undoubtedly hastened on the Revolution. When the States-General met in 1789, he appeared as deputy for the city of Paris. It was he who suggested that the three estates should form a single assembly, and proposed the name National Assembly, which was adopted by the unified body. He was but a poor speaker, but he maintained his position as an abstract politician and a framer of constitutions, winning new laurels by his published speech opposing the royal veto. In the Legislative Assembly he sat in the Centre, but he had not the courage to defend the Girondists, and sank into comparative obscurity, only coming forward at the installation of the Goddess of Reason to renounce his faith in the Christian religion. In 1795 he was one of a commission appointed to frame a new constitution, but his proposals were rejected. In 1798 he was sent as ambassador to Berlin, and began to intrigue with Napoleon. The coup d'etat of 18 Brumaire (November 9, 1799) was followed by the establishment of the Third Consulate, composed of Napoleon, Sieyes, and Ducos, but Sieyes was outwitted by his great colleague, and was glad to retire to an estate at Cosne with the title of count and a handsome pension. After the second return of the Bourbons he fled to Belgium, but in 1830 he returned to Paris, where he died.