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Observers used the term sans-culottes (French for without knee-breeches), originally during the early years of the French Revolution to refer to the ill-clad and ill-equipped volunteers of the Revolutionary army, and later generally to the ultrademocrats of the Revolution.

The sans-culottes were for the most part members of the poorer classeses, or leaders of the populace, but during the Reign of Terror, public functionaries and persons of good education styled themselves citoyens sans-culottes.

The distinctive costume of typical sans-culottes featured:

The influence of the Sans-culottes ceased with the reaction that followed the fall of Robespierre (July 1794), and the name itself became proscribed.

The Republican Calendar at first termed the complementary days at the end of the year Sans-culottides; however, the National Convention suppressed the name when adopting the constitution of the year III (1795) and substituted the name jours complémentaires.

Initial text from a 1911 Encyclopaedia. Please update as needed.