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Related to sans-culottes: Robespierre, Jacobins


(säN-külôt`) [French,=without knee breeches], a term loosely applied to the lower classes in France during the French Revolution. The name was derived from the fact that these people wore long trousers instead of the knee breeches worn by the upper classes. The term applied to the sectionary "elites" in Paris connected with the JacobinsJacobins
, political club of the French Revolution. Formed in 1789 by the Breton deputies to the States-General, it was reconstituted as the Society of Friends of the Constitution after the revolutionary National Assembly moved (Oct., 1789) to Paris.
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 and to the popular masses aroused during the revolutionary journées (mass protests). Sans-culottism referred to the collectivist ideology that valued fraternity above liberty and demanded economic controls. With the suicide of RouxRoux, Jacques
, d. 1794, French revolutionary. A priest in Paris, he abandoned the priesthood at the start of the French Revolution. Roux was a member of the Commune of Paris of Aug., 1792. As a leader of the enragés in the Paris sections, he helped to instigate (Feb.
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 and the fall of HébertHébert, Jacques René
, 1757–94, French journalist and revolutionary. An ardent supporter of the French Revolution, he gained the support of the working classes through his virulent paper Le Père Duchesne and was prominent in the Cordeliers.
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, sans-culotte power was neutralized. The enragésenragés
, term applied to a small group of Parisian radical extremists in the French Revolution. Rising prices and food shortages provoked them in Feb.–Mar., 1793, to pillage the city's food stores.
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 were a distinct group of sans-culottes.


See A. Soboul, The Sans-cullotes (1981).

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References in periodicals archive ?
For the heroic sans-culottes, the storming of the royal prison must have been a letdown,.
Sans-Culottes: An Eighteenth-Century Emblem in the French Revolution, by Michael Sonenscher.
Hummel's doings make clear how much power and influence Germany's miniature kingdoms, dukedoms, and principalities retained in his day: how completely these petty states kept up ancien-regime habits of self-confident absolutist patronage, as if France's Jacobins and sans-culottes had never been.)
In truth, it is the middle classes, particularly the lower middle classes, who make revolutions, whether they be the sans-culottes of Revolutionary France, or the ruined small businessmen of Weimar Germany.
This is simplistic: it ignores, for example, the massive counter-revolutionary movements supported by peasants, the independent petit-bourgeois radicalism of the sans-culottes and the patriarchal values of many Jacobin radicals.
Time was when a classical album sleeve featured nothing more risque than a piano leg sans-culottes or a bust of Beethoven.
Although Robespierre, like most of the revolutionaries, was a bourgeois, he identified with the cause of the urban workers, the sans-culottes as they came to be known, and became a spokesman for them.
They date back to the late-1700s and the name is derived from the looser style of trouser worn by French working-class revolutionaries - named the Sans-Culottes (without breeches) - who rejected the aristocracy's tight breeches.
This discourse would become the language of the sans-culottes, which in turn "did some of the work of endowing the language of republicanism with its meaning" and gave the French Republic its original political character,.
Also promising, if flawed, was Kirsten Greenidge's "Sans-Culottes in the Promised Land," a wacky, wildly over-ambitious play about an over-extended, upper-class black family and their domestic servants.