The proto-nationalist ideas of such Enlightenment writers, as Montesquieu, Locke, Voltaire, and Rousseau, influenced the Revolution. Each professed varying ideas about a nation in the interests of the people, and contemplated the ideal forms of government, society, economy, and religion. The writings of these philosophes had an effect on the emergence of nationalism during the Revolution of 1789.

Likewise, the General Cahiers of 1789 showed an emerging national consciousness. They expressed the frustrations and concerns of people in the provinces of France. While most focused of local grievances, an underlying desire for greater recognition and a voice in government also surfaced.