A social designation for a political position. Based primarily in the working class areas of Paris, the sans- culottes, composed of a wide range of artisans from masters to journeymen, opposed themselves to the educated, well-to-do. Their name, literally without breeches, indicates the commitment to trousers worn by the lower classes. Beyond this oppositional stance, these groups opted for controlled bread prices, small business, and revolutionary justice if necessary. By 1792 they were a powerful force on the Parisian scene and politicians required their support. Eventually they were kingmakers, thrusting the Jacobins into office in 1793. But as the latter exercised power over the next year, they abandoned the sans-culottes, eventually repressing them. Thus they were not available when Robespierre, their closest ally, needed their help as he was being overthrown in 1794. Though weakened, the sans-culottes, reemerged and played a role in the Directory and, as a social ideal, well into the future.
“Sans-culottes,” LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY: EXPLORING THE FRENCH REVOUTION, accessed August 4, 2020, https://revolution.chnm.org/items/show/1066.