About Bastille Day

Bastille Day was created on July 14, 1880 to remember The Storming of the Bastille which started the French Revolutionary War.  The Bastille is a medieval fortress that was designed and built around the city of Paris for protection.  The Bastille was originally a wall around the city, but later became a political prison and symbol of history.  After battling King Louis XVI, a group of Parisian revolutionaries stormed the Bastille and dramatically burned the store of gunpowder within the building.  The storming took place on July 14, 1789 and is observed the same day as a French national holiday.

The Bastille dominated Paris.  It had eight towers that were one hundred feet high and was linked by walls of equal height.  The towers and wall were surrounded by a moat that was more than eighty feet wide.  Charles V of France was the creator and had the first stone placed on April 22, 1370 to protect himself and his beloved city from the English attacking.  The Bastille had fortified gates, but Charles VI changed the Bastille into and independent stronghold by walling up the fortified gates.  In 1557, the eastern flank of the erection was finished to complete the defense system.  The 17th century brought transverse block that was built and the inner court was divided into unequal parts.

As this process was completed, during the 17th century Cardinal de Richelieu started using the Bastille as a prison.  The prison would hold up to 40 prisoners yearly.  The prisoners would be interned by the Lettre de Cachet who got their orders directly from the king.  The prisoners consisted of people who fought the political systems, member of families that would not cooperate with each other and people who did not obey the law.  During Louis XIV reign, the Bastille was turned into a judicial detention used for prisoners of the Lieutenant de Police.  The cost to use and maintain the Bastille was a large sum; the talk to destroy the Bastille started.

On July 14, 1789 a crowd of Parisians, that included craftsmen and salesmen, advanced to the Bastille to steal weapons and gunpowder.  The crowd approached the prison governor to release the gunpowder and arms that were being stored there.  Told no, the crowd was upset and stormed the Bastille.  The Parisians stole 28,000 riffles and the seven prisoners that were being held were released.  The Revolutionary government demolished the Bastille.  The dramatic protest was against King Louis XVI.  The overturn helped create the end establish the First Republic.

King Louis XVI was unaware of the attack until that night.  Upon being told about the attack, he asked if it was a revolt, he was told that the beginning of a revolution had begun.  The three colors of the French flag were also created.  The crowd that stormed the Bastille adopted the tri-color rosettes as the new symbol of the Revolution.  The White, Blue and Red, the colors of Paris; the Blue and Red encircled the White center.  Louis XVI arrived in Paris and a few months later and was executed with the rosette.

Louis XVI did not want to become a prisoner of his own people; he and his wife Marie Antoinette decided to seek refuge in her home country of Austria.  Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and his children dressed in disguise as bakers and started the journey.  The people of Paris heard about Louis XVI plan and become outraged.  Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and their children were recognized and found before they reached the German border.  They were taken back to Paris where the reign of Louis XVI ended.

Learn more with these Bastille Day websites.

Cite This Page

"About Bastille Day." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 22 Mar. 2011. Web. 31 Aug. 2015. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/go/400/about-bastille-day/ >.

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