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What was Abbe Sieyes's view of the third estate?

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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...

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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 pamphlet which argued for the rights of the Third Estate. It is considered a galvanizing document of the French Revolution because it argued for the direct involvement of the general populace of France in state matters.

During the French Revolution itself, Sieyès further championed the rights of the Third Estate. He helped to steer the Revolution to be more than just an overthrow of a tyrannical monarchy but a cause to forward the social standing and political and civil rights of the bulk of the nation's population.

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Abbe Sieyès was a member of the French clergy around the time of the French Revolution. At the time, France's social system was broken up into three estates. The First Estate was made up of the clergy. The Second Estate was made up of the nobility. The Third Estate was made up of everyone else, and it constituted the vast majority of French citizens in the late 18th Century. The Third Estate consisted of 98% of French citizens, yet prior to the French Revolution, these citizens received few rights and benefits. Additionally, the Third Estate was the only estate required to pay taxes, despite its members including the poorest of the French people.

Sieyès is significant for his beliefs that were central to the ideas of the French Revolution. Sieyès favored ideas like popular sovereignty (rule by the people), in which the Third Estate (the bulk of the French population) received more rights and had a greater say in the government. There are three questions associated with Sieyès regarding the Third Estate. These questions are addressed by Sieyès in his pamphlet "What is the Third Estate?"

What is the Third Estate? Sieyès argues that the Third Estate is "everything." This is due to its being the vast majority of the French population of the time. He saw the Third Estate as being the true French nation.

What has it been so far in the political order? Sieyès claims the Third Estate is "nothing." This is because the Third Estate lacked rights and political representation at the time.

What does it ask to be? Sieyès believed the Third Estate asks to be "something." It is his view that, being such a large part of the population, the Third Estate requests, and deserves, rights, representation, and influence within the French government.

Sieyès played a critical role in representing the Third Estate at the Estates General in 1789. Under Sieyès, the Third Estate also moved to establish the National Assembly, which sought to provide greater representation of the Third Estate in French politics. Sieyès later stood against the King of France when the king refused to recognize the National Assembly.

An examination of the thoughts and actions of Sieyès shows his belief in the importance of the Third Estate. He can clearly be seen as a proponent of the repressed Third Estate and a leader of their cause as it culminated with the French Revolution.

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The Abbe Sieyes (Abbe is a title, not a name), believed in the importance of the Third Estate.  He best laid his views on this out in a pamphlet that he published that was entitled "What is the Third Estate."  In this pamphlet, he argued that the Third Estate was the most important part of France.  In fact, he said that it was "everything."

The Third Estate, of course, made up the bulk of the French people.  It was made up of everyone that was not clergy or nobility.  Because of this, it made sense for Sieyes to say that it was "everything" even though it had very little power under the system of government that existed in France before the Revolution.

Sieyes ended his pamphlet with this statement that shows his view quite well:

The Third Estate embraces then all that which belongs to the nation; and all that which is not the Third Estate, cannot be regarded as being of the nation.

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