The sans-culottes were a key movement in the new revolutionary society. They were initially composed of Parisian urban workers, however gradually expanded to include working-class people all over metropolitan areas of France. The sans-culottes were thus called as they rejected the wearing of culottes which were standard attire for nobles and the bourgeois. Instead, they were easily identifiable through their long trousers, often striped, in lieu of culottes, a short coat, the bonnet rouge (phrygien), also known as the red cap of liberty, and the revolutionary cockade.
The fundamental ideology of the sans-culottes was grounded in social and economic equality, especially after the inequity of the ancien régime, as well as a strong belief in the use of direct democracy as a means to achieve such equality. The sans-culottes were regarded as a highly radical movement though, and they consistently supported the most radical political groups throughout the course of the Revolution, firstly supporting the Jacobins and helping them gain power after the fall of the Girondins, and subsequently supporting the Enragés (sometimes called the Hébertistes) who were the ultra-revolutionary faction of the Jacobins.
The sans-culottes were a key group which effected many of the most pivotal journées, including both Invasions of the Tuileries, the expulsion of the Girondin government, the de-Christianisation campaign and supporting the Terror through their involvement with the armées révolutionnaires.
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