Although he was a member of the clergy and therefore a member of the First Estate, Abbe Sieyès was a true champion of the rights of the Third Estate. Since the segment of the Fench population included all non-nobility and non-clergy, it consisted of about 98 percent of the total French population at the time of the French Revolution. Despite this, the Third Estate had the fewest rights and privileges and paid the heaviest burden in terms of taxes and labor.
Abbe Sieyès saw the Third Estate as the truest representation of the French population. An avid student of the Enlightenment, Sieyès was greatly influenced by the works of such philosophers as John Locke and Turgot. This influence caused him to rethink the way that governments should represent the will of the people. Because, as he put it, the Third Estate was "everything" they deserved to have a government in which they played the biggest role and had their fair share of rights and privileges.
In 1789, Sieyès penned his famous...
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