Bastille Day :-The French national holiday of Bastille Day—celebrated each year on July 14, may spell fireworks and and a large military parade for some, but for most, it still marks the anniversary of the storming of a grand fortress that was infamous for holding political prisoners, during the first moments of the French Revolution in Paris in 1789.
What is Bastille Day?
On July 14, 1789, just two days after the revolution began, a mob broke into the Bastille Fortress in Paris, which held stockpiles of weapons as well as political prisoners. After taking gunpowder and arms, the mob killed the prison’s governor and infamously held his head on a stick, according to the British Library.
Behind the French Revolution
The French had good reason to rebel. The corrupt king and queen’s actions were causing the poor to go hungry and the wealthy, middle-class merchants and businessmen were tired of not having thier concerns heard. By the late 1780s, people in France were fed up and so they began speaking out and met in groups to demand that new laws be made. King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette tried to quiet everyone, but the citizens eventually rebelled.
Prison Storming (Bastille Day)
The Bastille was a prison in Paris where the king and queen usually locked up people who didn’t agree with their decisions. To a lot of French, the Bastille prison was a symbol of the corrupt system run by the monarchy. On July 14, 1789 the French Revolution began when a large group stormed the Bastille. The Revolution lasted for 10 years and brought some great changes (along with many deaths). While democracy wasn’t established for several decades, the Revolution served as a turning point for how France was governed. In 1880, nearly 100 years after the storming, Bastille Day became a national holiday. Today, most locals in France have festive dances and big firework displays on Bastille Eve and on Bastille Day there are parades, bands and more dancing!
ORIGINALLY, THE BASTILLE ITSELF WASN’T DESIGNED TO BE A PRISON.
The name “Bastille” comes from the word bastide, which means fortification. It was used as a generic term for a certain type of tower in Southern France until it was eventually restricted to one particular Bastille.
When construction began on the building in 1357. Its main purpose was not to keep prisoners in, but to keep invading armies out .
Did You Know?
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- Bastille comes from the French word bastide, which means stronghold.
- France’s tricolor flag was introduced during the Revolution. The three colors represent the ideals of the French people – liberty, equality and fraternity for all citizens.
- When the prison was stormed on July 14th there were only seven prisoners left in the Bastille.
- Have you heard about the Man in the Iron Mask? He was a Bastille prisoner from 1698 to 1703.
- The famous philosopher and writer, Voltaire, was also a prisoner of the Bastille.
THE LOUVRE CELEBRATES BY OFFERING FREE ADMISSION.
If you’re in Paris on Bastille Day and don’t mind large crowds, go say “bonjour” to the Mona Lisa. Her measurements might surprise you: The world’s most famous painting is only 30 inches tall by 21 inches wide.
YOU CAN FIND A KEY TO THE BASTILLE AT MOUNT VERNON.
Yearning for glory, the Marquis de Lafayette, 19, arrived in the new world to join America’s revolutionary cause in 1777. Right off the bat, he made a powerful friend. George Washington instantly took a liking to the Frenchman and within a month. Lafayette had effectively become the General’s adopted son. Their familial affection was mutual; when the younger man had a son of his own in 1779, he named him Georges Washington de Lafayette.