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    French Revolution for Kids: Jacobins

    Kids learn about the Jacobins political club during the French Revolution including how they got their name, rise to power, Robespierre, the Reign of Terror, Girondins vs. the Mountain, and other clubs. Educational article for students, schools, and teachers.

    French Revolution

    French Revolution Jacobins

    History >> French Revolution

    Who were the Jacobins?

    The Jacobins were members of an influential political club during the French Revolution. They were radical revolutionaries who plotted the downfall of the king and the rise of the French Republic. They are often associated with a period of violence during the French Revolution called "the Terror."

    by Lebel, editor, Paris

    How did they get their name?

    The official name of the political club was the . The club became known by the nickname the "Jacobin Club" after the Jacobin monastery where the club met in Paris.

    Importance During the French Revolution

    At the start of the French Revolution in 1789, the Jacobins were a fairly small club. The members were like-minded deputies of the National Assembly. However, as the French Revolution progressed, the club grew rapidly. At the height of their power, there were thousands of Jacobin clubs throughout France and around 500,000 members.


    One of the most powerful members of the Jacobins was Maximilien Robespierre. Robespierre used the influence of the Jacobins to rise in the new revolutionary government of France. At one point, he was the most powerful man in France.

    The Terror

    In 1793, the new French government was facing internal civil war and was being attacked by foreign countries. The Jacobins were afraid that the revolution was going to fail. Behind the leadership of Robespierre, the Jacobins instituted a state of "Terror." Under this new rule of law, they would arrest, and often execute, anyone suspected of treason. Thousands of people were executed and hundreds of thousands were arrested.

    Fall of the Jacobins

    Eventually, the people realized that the state of terror could not continue. They overthrew Robespierre and had him executed. The Jacobin Club was banned and many of its leaders were executed or jailed.

    Jacobin Factions

    There were two major factions within the Jacobins:

    Mountain - The Mountain group, also called the Montagnards, got their name because they sat along the top benches of the Assembly. They were the most radical faction of the Jacobins and were led by Robespierre. They opposed the Girondists and eventually gained control of the club.

    Girondists - The Girondists were less-radical than the Mountain and eventually the two groups came into conflict. Many Girondists were executed at the start of the Terror for opposing Robespierre.

    Other Political Clubs

    While the Jacobins were the most influential political club during the French Revolution, they weren't the only club. One of these clubs was the Cordeliers. The Cordeliers were led by Georges Danton and played a major role in the Storming of the Bastille. Other clubs included the Pantheon Club, the Feuillants Club, and the Society of 1789.

    Interesting Facts about the Jacobins of the French Revolution

    The famous radical journalist Jean-Paul Marat was a Jacobin. He was assassinated by a Girondist sympathizer named Charlotte Corday while he was taking a bath.

    The Jacobin motto was "Live free or die."

    They set up a new state religion and a new calendar.

    The term "Jacobin" is still used in Britain and France to describe certain branches of politics.


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    More on the French Revolution:Timeline and Events

    Timeline of the French Revolution

    Causes of the French Revolution

    Estates General National Assembly

    Storming of the Bastille

    Women's March on Versailles

    Reign of Terror The Directory


    Famous People of the French Revolution

    Marie Antoinette Napoleon Bonaparte

    Marquis de Lafayette

    Maximilien Robespierre



    Symbols of the French Revolution

    Glossary and Terms Works Cited

    History >> French Revolution

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    Jacobins in the French Revolution

    Who were the Jacobins? Learn about the Jacobins in the French Revolution, including the 'Jacobin' meaning, leader of the Jacobins, and Jacobin...

    Jacobin Meaning

    A Jacobin was a member of the Jacobin Club, a revolutionary political movement that opposed the French monarchy. Their name is attributed to the club having meetings at the Couvent des Jacobins on the Rue Saint-Jacques. The Couvent was a church of the Dominicans who were called Jacobins in Paris due to their affiliation with the church. The beliefs of the Jacobins were left-wing and revolutionary and included a strong, centralized government that assisted all classes of people, not just the nobility and the aristocracy. Their motto was "live free or die," and as the French Revolution progressed, they became more violent and conducted the Reign of Terror (mass imprisonment and executions to those who disagreed with their cause) from 1793 to 1794.

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    Jacobin Factions

    The Montagnard (Mountain) Jacobins were a radical faction that opposed the rule of the Girondins, a more moderate faction of Jacobins, who opposed the execution of the king and the Reign of Terror.

    Girondins Jacobins:

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    Leader of the Jacobins

    The leader of the Girondins was Jacques Pierre Brissot. He advocated for the revolution to include the whole country of France rather than just Paris.

    The leader of the Montagnard Jacobins was Maximillien Robespierre. He helped to overthrow the Girondins after the Montagnards became dissatisfied with the changes the Girondins made to the French government, which became a constitutional monarchy in 1791 after King Louis XVI signed the French Constitution of 1791.

    Maximillien Robespierre, leader of the Montagnard Jacobins and the Reign of Terror.

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    Fall of the Jacobins

    The Jacobins conducted the Reign of Terror from September 1793 to July 1794. The Reign of Terror was marked by mass executions conducted by the Montagnards' Committee of Public Safety and the Revolutionary Tribunal in an attempt to quell those who disagreed with the Revolution. During the Reign of Terror, an estimated 300,000 suspects were arrested and 17,000 were officially executed. During the Reign of Terror, there were between 5,000 and 8,000 clubs and an estimated membership of 500,000. The clubs provided military equipment to the army and they policed local markets to spy on those who disagreed with the movement. Maximillien Robespierre, leader of the Montagnard Jacobins and leader of the Reign of Terror, was overthrown and executed on July 27, 1794. Because of the Jacobins' violence, the public opinion and reputation of the French Revolution was greatly diminished, leading to the Jacobins losing their influence and becoming politically insignificant.

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    Lesson Summary

    The Jacobins were a group that was part of a political movement during the French Revolution that occurred from 1789 to 1799. The main cause of the French Revolution was financial ruin, famine, and income inequality in France.The French and Indian War and the American Revolution put France deeply in debt. The Jacobins lost power in 1794 after their leader Maximillien Robespierre was overthrown and executed. The Jacobin movement split into factions after the more radical (Montagnard) Jacobins overthrew the king. On January 21, 1793, King Louis XVI was guillotined along with his wife, Marie Antoinette. The Montagnards were overthrown by the Girondins, after the more moderate Jacobins, led by Jacques Pierre Brissot, opposed the Reign of Terror and the king's execution. The Reign of Terror was conducted by the Montagnard Jacobins from 1793 to 1794, during which time they conducted mass arrests and executions of those who were opposed to their movement. The French republic did not achieve stability until Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in 1799, officially ending the French Revolution. The term Jacobin is used to refer to liberal or radical groups in countries such as Russia and Austria, and today, the term applies to people in France who favor a strong centralized government.

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    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    For other uses, see Jacobin (disambiguation).

    Not to be confused with Jacobean or Jacobite.

    The Jacobin Club French:

    Seal of the Jacobin Club (1792–1794)

    Successor Panthéon Club

    Formation 1789

    Founder Various deputies of the National Convention

    Founded at Versailles, France

    Dissolved 12 November 1794; 228 years ago

    Type Parliamentary group

    Legal status Inactive

    Purpose Establishment of a Jacobin society

    1789–1791: abolition of the Ancien Régime, creation of a parliament, introduction of a Constitution, and separation of powers

    1791–1795: establishment of a republic, fusion of powers into the National Convention, and establishment of an authoritarian-democratic state

    Headquarters Dominican convent, Rue Saint-Honoré, Paris

    Region France

    Methods From democratic initiatives to public acts of political violence

    Membership (1793) Around 500,000[1]

    Official language French

    President Antoine Barnave (first)

    Maximilien Robespierre (last)

    Key people Brissot, Robespierre, Duport, Marat, Desmoulins, Mirabeau, Danton, Billaud-Varenne, Barras, Collot d'Herbois, Saint-Just

    Subsidiaries Newspapers


    Affiliations All groups in the National Convention

    Montagnards Girondins Part of a series on Radicalism show History show Ideas show People show Groups show By region show Related History portal Liberalism portal v t e Part of a series on Liberalism show Schools show Concepts show History show Philosophers show Politicians show Organizations show Regional variants show Related topics Liberalism portal Politics portal v t e

    The Society of the Friends of the Constitution (French: ), renamed the Society of the Jacobins, Friends of Freedom and Equality () after 1792 and commonly known as the Jacobin Club () or simply the Jacobins (/ˈdʒækəbɪn/; French: [ʒakɔbɛ̃]), was the most influential political club during the French Revolution of 1789. The period of its political ascendancy includes the Reign of Terror, during which well over 10,000 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.[1] The Jacobin Club was heterogeneous and included both prominent parliamentary factions of the early 1790s: The Mountain and the Girondins.[3] In 1792–93, the Girondins were more prominent in leading France when they declared war on Austria and on Prussia, overthrew King Louis XVI, and set up the French First 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 as a way to suppress the Vendée insurrection and the Federalist revolts, and to deter recurrences. 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.

    In the British Empire, was linked primarily to The Mountain of the French Revolutionary governments and was popular among the established and entrepreneurial classes as a pejorative to deride radical left-wing revolutionary politics, especially when they exhibit dogmatism and violent repression.[4] In Britain, the term faintly echoed negative connotations of Jacobitism, the pro-Catholic, monarchist, rarely insurrectional political movement that faded out decades earlier tied to deposed King James II and VII and his descendants. reached obsolescence and supersedence before the Russian Revolution, when the terms (Radical) Marxism, anarchism, socialism, and communism had overtaken it.

    In France, now generally leans towards moderate authoritarianism, more equal formal rights, and centralization.[5] It can, similarly, denote supporters of extensive government intervention to transform society.[6] It is unabashedly used by proponents of a state education system that strongly promotes and inculcates civic values. It is more controversially, and less squarely, used by or for proponents of a strong nation-state capable of resisting undesirable foreign interference.[7]



    When the Estates General of 1789 in France convened in May–June 1789 at the Palace of Versailles, the Jacobin club, originating as the , comprised exclusively a group of Breton representatives attending those Estates General.[8] Deputies from other regions throughout France soon joined. Early members included the dominating comte de Mirabeau, Parisian deputy Abbé Sieyès, Dauphiné deputy Antoine Barnave, Jérôme Pétion, the Abbé Grégoire, Charles Lameth, Alexandre Lameth, Artois deputy Robespierre, the duc d'Aiguillon, and La Revellière-Lépeaux. At this time meetings occurred in secret, and few traces remain concerning what took place or where the meetings convened.[8]

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