- Revolutionary Tradition and Les Mis
- Revolution 1789
of the Bastille
- -- Fall of Robespierre
in Les Miserables
Names and Games
Who were those
revolutionary Frenchmen, those "sans-culottes" (men
without fancy breeches) who stormed
the Bastille, who
extended their nations's borders by defeating the best armies of Europe's monarchs, who survived, and even prospered,
amid the cruel excesses of the
Terror? They were
by no means the frenzied, mindless mob portrayed in most fictional
accounts of the Revolution--accounts which have generally tended
to favor the gentle aristocrats. Rather, they were clerks and
tradesmen, lawyers and goldsmiths, bakers and merchants: a crowd
of fighting patriots, not a rabble.
Dowd,The French Revolution, p. 7
print from Dowd
In this allegorical drawing
some typical san-culottes dance around a liberty tree. Onthe
right is the captured
Bastille, and on
the left is the Austrian
army. The patriotic
ardor of the sans-culottes is clearly expressed here.
The Sans-Culottes were the working men
of Paris, who longed for a political voice in the tumultous political
scene of the early 1790s. The man who provided them with a place to
air their political views was George Jacques Danton. He founded the Cordeliers Club to give the
Sans-Culottes a voice in government because they were too poor to qualify
as voters. Members paid a few cents a month for the privilege of gathering
as a group and hearing the Club's prominent members speak (Camille Desmoulins and Jean Paul
Marat were among them).
The sans-culottes circulated petitions that demanded the removal of
the King and the declaration of a republic. Although their petitions
were initially rejected, their demands were eventually met as the Revolution
played out. The sans culottes were a powerful force in Paris throughout
the Revolution, but disappeared from the political scene when Robespierre fell from power in 1794.
between the sans-culottes and Les Miserables click here.
more information on opposing views of the Sans-Culottes click
This sketch of a
sans-culotte was taken from Decaux.
This man is a sterotypical
sans-culotte. He weres pants, and not breeches and a red stocking
cap known as a bonnet rouge. His pants are red, white and blue:
the colors of the French flag. He carries both a sword and a
pike and appears ready to fight for France.