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(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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The Revolution is seen as a climax of cannibalism, no sort so 'detestable' (11, 376), and the fear is that it is not yet over, and that it appears as the triumph of the madness that comes from below, as in the following passage, which objectifies the revolutionary force: 'O mad Sansculottism, hast thou risen, in thy mad darkness, in thy soot and rags, unexpectedly, like an Enceladus, living-buried, from under his Trinacria?
is by the nature of him a son of Order, not of disorder." Further, "While man is man, some Cromwell or Napoleon is the necessary finish of a Sansculottism ..." And there it is: the script and justification for all of those Regulators, those Sons of Order who will keep the rabble in their place.
O shrieking beloved brother blockheads of Mankind, let us close those wide mouths of ours; let us cease shrieking, and begin considering.'(2) It is a point to which he returns and refines upon when discussing sansculottism and the Terror: