Jacobin  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Society of the Friends of the Constitution, after 1792 renamed Society of the Jacobins, Friends of Freedom and Equality, commonly known as the Jacobin Club (Club des Jacobins) or simply the Jacobins , became the most influential political club during the French Revolution of 1789 and following. The period of their political ascendency includes the Reign of Terror, during which time well over ten thousand people were put on trial and executed in France, many for political crimes.

Initially founded in 1789 by anti-royalist deputies from Brittany, the club grew into a nationwide republican movement, with a membership estimated at a half million or more. The Jacobin Club was heterogeneous and included both prominent parliamentary factions of the early 1790s, the Mountain and the Girondins. In 1792–1793 the Girondins were more prominent in leading France, the period when France declared war on Austria and on Prussia, overthrew the monarchy and set up the Republic. In May 1793 the leaders of the Mountain faction led by Maximilien Robespierre succeeded in sidelining the Girondin faction and controlled the government until July 1794. Their time in government featured high levels of political violence, and for this reason the period of the Jacobin/Mountain government is identified as the Reign of Terror. In October 1793, 21 prominent Girondins were guillotined. The Mountain-dominated government executed 17,000 opponents nationwide, purportedly to suppress the Vendée insurrection and the Federalist revolts and to prevent any other insurrections. In July 1794 the National Convention pushed the administration of Robespierre and his allies out of power and had Robespierre and 21 associates executed. In November 1794 the Jacobin Club closed.

Today, the terms "Jacobin" and "Jacobinism" are used in a variety of senses. In Britain, where the term "Jacobin" has been linked primarily to the Mountain, it is sometimes used as a pejorative for radical left-wing revolutionary politics, especially when it exhibits dogmatism and violent repression. In France, "Jacobin" now generally indicates a supporter of a centralized republican state and of strong central government powers and/or supporters of extensive government intervention to transform society. It is also used in other related senses, indicating proponents of a state education system which strongly promotes and inculcates civic values and proponents of a strong nation-state capable of resisting any undesirable foreign interference.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Jacobin" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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