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enragés

(äNräzhā`), term applied to a small group of Parisian radical extremists in the French RevolutionFrench Revolution,
political upheaval of world importance in France that began in 1789. Origins of the Revolution

Historians disagree in evaluating the factors that brought about the Revolution.
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. Rising prices and food shortages provoked them in Feb.–Mar., 1793, to pillage the city's food stores. Led by Jacques 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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, they demanded strict economic controls and successfully agitated for the overthrow of the GirondistsGirondists
or Girondins
, political group of moderate republicans in the French Revolution, so called because the central members were deputies of the Gironde dept. Girondist leaders advocated continental war.
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. To maintain popular support in a time of crisis, the government granted many of their demands in the early months of the Reign of TerrorReign of Terror,
1793–94, period of the French Revolution characterized by a wave of executions of presumed enemies of the state. Directed by the Committee of Public Safety, the Revolutionary government's Terror was essentially a war dictatorship, instituted to rule the
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, but arrested them. After Roux's arrest (Aug., 1793) Jacques René 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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 supported them.

Enragés

 

the name applied to the representatives of the political current farthest to the left in the Great French Revolution. The Enragés were ideologists of the urban plebeians (J. Roux, T. Leclerc, J. Varlet, and others).

Between spring and autumn 1793, the Enragés and other agitators of the people—the leaders of the districts of Paris—held the most advanced views on the introduction of revolutionary terror and on intervention by the revolutionary government in socioeconomic relations in order to benefit the masses. Above all, they tried to curtail specu-lation and provide bread and other necessities for the urban lower classes.

The Enragés participated actively in organizing the uprising of May 31 to June 2, 1793, which put an end to the rule of the Girondists. However, the accession to power of the Jacobins did not satisfy the Enragés, who demanded immediate measures to improve the living conditions of the lower classes. They sharply criticized the Jacobin Constitution of 1793 and insisted on the addition of clauses to limit private property and institute the death penalty for speculation. “Freedom is an empty shadow when one class can oppress another with impunity and starve it to death,” declared Roux, emphasizing the dissatisfaction of the masses with the achievement of mere political democracy.

The uprising of the Parisian lower classes on Sept. 4–5, 1793, which was inspired to a certain degree by the propaganda of Roux, Leclerc, and other popular agitators, resulted in the satisfaction of the basic demands of the masses. (For example, fixed prices were put on necessities, and revolutionary terror was introduced.) This laid the basis for a revolutionary democratic dictatorship. The bourgeois limitations of the Jacobin dictatorship led to a break between the Enragés and the Jacobins and a struggle between them. Since the Enragés were not a formally organized group, they were unable to resist the organized Jacobin dictatorship, which crushed them in autumn 1793. The Enragés did a great service by establishing the plebeian methods of struggle for which the Jacobin dictatorship became known in history. The anticapitalist features of their views and activities played a certain role in the formation of proletarian ideology.

REFERENCES

Zakher, Ia. M. Dvizhenie “beshenykh.” Moscow, 1961.
Soboul, A. Parizhskie sankiuloty vo vremia iakobinskoi diktatury. Moscow, 1966. (Translated from French.)
Sytin, S. L. “Bor’ba plebeiskikh mass Parizha . . . ν iiule—sent. 1793.” Uch. zap. Ul’ianovskogo pedinstituta, 1956, issue 8.
Markov, W. Die Freiheiten des Priesters Roux. Berlin, 1967.
Rose, R. B. The Enrages: Socialists of the French Revolution? Carlton, 1965.

A. V. GORDON

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