(redirected from Sansculottes)
Also found in: Dictionary.
Related to Sansculottes: 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.
..... Click the link for more information.
 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.
..... Click the link for more information.
 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.
..... Click the link for more information.
, 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.
..... Click the link for more information.
 were a distinct group of sans-culottes.


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

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
He clung to the form of law partly in order to prevent the sansculottes taking the law into their own hands through mob violence.
Both works depict terrified families fleeing Paris, but whereas Radcliffe's Pierre de la Motte is a gambler and swindler who sneaks out of the capital with his wife to escape legal prosecution, Robinson's de Sevracs run away to avoid being executed by sansculottes. La Motte is a common criminal; the de Sevracs are political refugees.
Associated through both Wollstonecraft and his own philosophical writing with the Jacobin cause, Godwin suffered a number of attacks that questioned his masculinity, and by 1801 he was easily lampooned as "sansculottes" and "melancholy, / For Mary verily would wear the breeches-- / God help poor silly men from such usurping b--s" ("Vision of Liberty" 518).
Yet don't we spectators--co-protagonists in the event--have some-what the aspect (and perhaps the function) of sansculottes from the time of the French Revolution, eyeing the nobility at table?
John Bull's acceptance of reform is equated with the surrender of his roast beef, plum pudding and porter to three unctuous and seedy sansculottes who address him with courtly politeness, but then offer him frogs to eat, before they attack him and trample him underfoot.
No group, no individual may exercise authority not emanating expressly therefrom." The French sansculottes, in substituting for God the will of the majority, completely inverted the relationship of individual to state.
Besides enduring house searches, interrogations, and arrest, Grace saw the heads of several friends impaled on sticks and paraded through cheering swarms of sansculottes. Her memoir is, understandably then, a document that shows little sympathy for the liberatory mood that seized the Paris streets as the age of Voltaire and Rousseau swooped to a climax.
"Popular sovereignty" and "independence" of the people "whatever the number of individuals who compose it and the extent of territory it occupies," as the Parisian sansculottes proclaimed in 1795, [64] provided dominant conception of nationalisms in the West.
While it was apparent that men continued to dress for public life mostly in the pantaloons of the sansculottes, that is, in long pants in place of knee-breeches, in half-boots, frock coats, waistcoats and top hats that attest to the utilitarian influence of the French Revolution on dress, women's fashion, as Fouque was forced to admit with a note of resignation, had "restored" the cumbersome, laced-up and bustled shape of her mother's era.
Generally, Rose shows us the political apprenticeship of the Parisian sansculottes, learning the meaning of democracy in the popular societies and the sections.
To be sure, he identified himself with the sansculottes, whom he called "the lowest classes of society--the workers, the artisans, the retailers, the farmers" who "made and sustained" the Revolution (160).