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The Plebeian ExperienceA Discontinuous History of Political Freedom$
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Martin Breaugh

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231156189

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231156189.001.0001

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Sectional Societies and the Sans-Culottes of Paris

Sectional Societies and the Sans-Culottes of Paris

(p.112) 3 Sectional Societies and the Sans-Culottes of Paris
The Plebeian Experience

Martin Breaugh

, Lazer Lederhendler
Columbia University Press

The term sans-culotte was coined by antirevolutionary publicists to denigrate the poor of Paris. The emphasis on the lack of breeches was intended to point up the indigence, ignorance, vulgarity, and animality of ordinary people as perceived by the breeches-wearing supporters of the aristocratic order. But when the Revolution entered a more radical stage, the term became a “title of glory,” designating the people or the revolutionary throng at the heart of the revolutionary movement up until Thermidor. This chapter analyzes the sectional societies, the form of political organization of the Parisian sans-culottes, and of the practice of insurrection order to understand the resurgence of the plebeian principle in modern history. Though short-lived, that resurgence allows us to grasp the sans-culottes' contribution to the communalist and agoraphile tradition.

Keywords:   sans-culotte, revolutionaries, plebeian principle, sectional societies, political organization, insurrection, French Revolution

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