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What Is a Sans Culotte

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2012 07:09 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 46.2 
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Write a critical commentary of no more than 1500 words on the following passage.   In your commentary, which should take the form of a continuous piece of prose, you should:
i) Locate the source concisely in the context of the French Revolution;
ii) Indicate, with examples, what the passage tells us about the French Revolution; and
iii) Indicate briefly how far (if at all) you detect in it Enlightenment influences.

The anonymous passage entitled “What is a sans-culotte?” is, as is evident from the date given, from the year 1793.   The year of 1793 to 1794 represents perhaps the bloodiest and most extreme year of the French Revolution popularly known as, “The Terror”.   A leading faction in this state authorized Terror were the “Sans Culottes”, part of the Jacobin led government faction, literally meaning ‘without breeches’ in order to distinguish them from the upper classes who wore them.  
The Sans Culottes had seized power under the auspices of Maximilen Robespierre from the Girondins and took control of the Committee of Public Safety.   This had previously been set up by the Girondins to maintain order within France and protect the country from external threats.   The Sans Culottes consisted of peasants, urban labourers and other French poor who were extremely militant and wanted to see an end to privilege and the nobility.   They were seen as a disparate and uncontrollable mob who despite all their contributions to the Revolution still found that the privileged, in one shape or form controlled the new republic with little input from the likes of them.
The passage itself is undoubtedly an attack on the perceived enemies of the republic, at the time of writing this being, the bourgeoisies the privileged the nobility and the previous ruling Girondin led republic which was formed of more conservative members who had advocated a constitutional monarchy.   The passage talks of “Gorsa’s muck with reference to the Girondin journalist and Girondin newspapers.   In June...

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