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Originally a name of the French friars of the order of St Dominic, so called because the church of St Jacques in Paris was given to them and they built their first convent nearby. From them the name was transferred to the members of a French political club established in 1789, in Paris, in the old convent, to maintain extreme democratic and egalitarian principles. It was applied about 1800 as a nickname for any radical political reformer.

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