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Storming of the Bastille

The Storming of the Bastille (French: Prise de la Bastille ) was an event that occurred in Paris, France, on the afternoon of 14 July 1789, when revolutionaries stormed and seized control of the medieval armory, fortress, and political prison known as the Bastille. At the time, the Bastille represented royal authority in the centre of Paris. The prison contained only seven inmates at the time of its storming, but was seen by the revolutionaries as a symbol of the monarchy's abuse of power; its fall was the flashpoint of the French Revolution.

Storming of the Bastille
Part of the French Revolution

Storming of The Bastille, Jean-Pierre Houël
Belligerents
Civilian insurgents
French Guards mutineers
Royal government
Commanders and leaders
Pierre Hulin
Stanislas Maillard
Jacob Élie
Bernard-René Jourdan de Launay
Strength
Between 688 to 1,000 armed civilian insurgents; 61 French Guards; at least five artillery pieces 114 soldiers (82 Invalides (veterans), 32 Swiss soldiers of the Salis-Samade Regiment); 30 artillery pieces
Casualties and losses
98 killed, 73 wounded 1 killed in fighting; 113 captured (six or possibly eight killed after surrender)

In France, 14 July is the national holiday, usually called Bastille Day in English.

Contents

During the reign of Louis XVI France faced a major economic crisis. This crisis was caused in part by the cost of intervening in the American Revolution and exacerbated by a regressive system of taxation, as well as poor harvests in the late 1780s. On 5 May 1789, the Estates-General convened to deal with this issue, but were held back by archaic protocols and the conservatism of the Second Estate, representing the nobility who made up less than 2% of France's population.

On 17 June 1789, the Third Estate, with its representatives drawn from the commoners, reconstituted itself as the National Assembly, a body whose purpose was the creation of a French constitution. The king initially opposed this development but was forced to acknowledge the authority of the assembly, which renamed itself the National Constituent Assembly on 9 July.

Paris, close to insurrection and in François Mignet's words, "intoxicated with liberty and enthusiasm", showed wide support for the Assembly. The press published the Assembly's debates; political debate spread beyond the Assembly itself into the public squares and halls of the capital. The Palais-Royal and its grounds became the site of an ongoing meeting. The crowd, on the authority of the meeting at the Palais-Royal, broke open the prisons of the Abbaye to release some grenadiers of the French guards, reportedly imprisoned for refusing to fire on the people. The Assembly recommended the imprisoned guardsmen to the clemency of the king; they returned to prison and received a pardon. The rank and file of the regiment, previously considered reliable, now leaned toward the popular cause.

On 11 July 1789, Louis XVI—acting under the influence of the conservative nobles of his privy council—dismissed and banished his finance minister, Jacques Necker (who had been sympathetic to the Third Estate) and completely reconstituted the ministry. The marshals Victor-François, duc de Broglie, la Galissonnière, the duc de la Vauguyon, the Baron Louis de Breteuil, and the intendant Foulon, took over the posts of Puységur, Armand Marc, comte de Montmorin, La Luzerne, Saint-Priest, and Necker.

Jacques Necker (1732–1804), French minister of finance

News of Necker's dismissal reached Paris on the afternoon of Sunday, 12 July. The Parisians generally presumed that the dismissal marked the start of a coup by conservative elements. Liberal Parisians were further enraged by the fear that a concentration of Royal troops—brought in from frontier garrisons to Versailles, Sèvres, the Champ de Mars, and Saint-Denis—would attempt to shut down the National Constituent Assembly, which was meeting in Versailles. Crowds gathered throughout Paris, including more than ten thousand at the Palais-Royal. Camille Desmoulins successfully rallied the crowd by "mounting a table, pistol in hand, exclaiming: 'Citizens, there is no time to lose; the dismissal of Necker is the knell of a Saint Bartholomew for patriots! This very night all the Swiss and German battalions will leave the Champ de Mars to massacre us all; one resource is left; to take arms!'"

The Swiss and German regiments referred to were among the foreign mercenary troops who made up a significant portion of the pre-revolutionary Royal Army, and were seen as being less likely to be sympathetic to the popular cause than ordinary French soldiers. By early July, approximately half of the 25,000 regular troops in Paris and Versailles were drawn from these foreign regiments. The French regiments included in the concentration appear to have been selected either because of the proximity of their garrisons to Paris or because their colonels were supporters of the reactionary "court party" opposed to reform.

During the public demonstrations that started on 12 July, the multitude displayed busts of Necker and of Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, then marched from the Palais Royal through the theater district before continuing westward along the boulevards. The crowd clashed with the Royal German Cavalry Regiment ("Royal-Allemand") between the Place Vendôme and the Tuileries Palace. From atop the Champs-Élysées, the Prince de Lambesc unleashed a cavalry charge that dispersed the remaining protesters at Place Louis XV—now Place de la Concorde. The Royal commander, Baron de Besenval, fearing the results of a blood bath amongst the poorly armed crowds or defections among his own men, then withdrew the cavalry towards Sèvres.

Meanwhile, unrest was growing among the people of Paris who expressed their hostility against state authorities by attacking customs posts blamed for causing increased food and wine prices. The people of Paris started to plunder any place where food, guns, and supplies might be hoarded. That night, rumors spread that supplies were hoarded at Saint-Lazare, a huge property of the clergy, which functioned as a convent, hospital, school, and even a jail. An angry mob broke in and plundered the property, seizing 52 wagons of wheat, which were taken to the public market. That same day multitudes of people plundered many other places including weapon arsenals. Royal troops did nothing to stop the spreading of social chaos in Paris during those days.

The Bastille of Paris before the Revolution

The regiment of Gardes Françaises (French Guards) formed the permanent garrison of Paris and, with many local ties, was favourably disposed towards the popular cause. This regiment had remained confined to its barracks during the initial stages of the mid-July disturbances. With Paris becoming the scene of a general riot, Charles Eugene, Prince of Lambesc (Marshal of the Camp, Proprietor of the Royal Allemand-Dragoons), not trusting the regiment to obey his order, posted sixty dragoons to station themselves before its depot in the Chaussée d'Antin. The officers of the French Guards made ineffectual attempts to rally their men. The rebellious citizenry had now acquired a trained military contingent. As word of this spread, the commanders of the royal forces encamped on the Champ de Mars became doubtful of the dependability of even the foreign regiments. The future "Citizen King", Louis-Philippe, duc d 'Orléans, witnessed these events as a young officer and was of the opinion that the soldiers would have obeyed orders if put to the test. He also commented in retrospect that the officers of the French Guards had neglected their responsibilities in the period before the uprising, leaving the regiment too much to the control of its non-commissioned officers. However, the uncertain leadership of Besenval led to a virtual abdication of royal authority in central Paris. On the morning of 13 July, the electors of Paris met and agreed to the recruitment of a "bourgeois militia" of 48,000 men from the sixty voting districts of Paris, to restore order. Their identifying cockades were of blue and red, the colours of Paris. Lafayette was elected commander of this group on 14 July and subsequently changed its name to the National Guard. He added the colour white, the colour of the King, to the cockade on 27 July, to make the famous French tri-colour.

People in the Castle of Bastille, (Musée de la Révolution française).
An eyewitness painting of the siege of the Bastille by Claude Cholat
A plan of the Bastille and surrounding buildings made immediately after 1789; the red dot marks the perspective of Claude Cholat's painting of the siege.

On the morning of 14 July 1789, the city of Paris was in a state of alarm. The partisans of the Third Estate in France, now under the control of the Bourgeois Militia of Paris (soon to become Revolutionary France's National Guard), had earlier stormed the Hôtel des Invalides without meeting significant opposition. Their intention had been to gather the weapons held there (29,000 to 32,000 muskets, but without powder or shot). The commandant at the Invalides had in the previous few days taken the precaution of transferring 250 barrels of gunpowder to the Bastille for safer storage.

At this point, the Bastille was nearly empty, housing only seven prisoners: four forgers arrested under warrants issued by the Grand Châtelet court; James F.X. Whyte, an Irish born "lunatic" suspected of spying and imprisoned at the request of his family; Auguste-Claude Tavernier, who had tried to assassinate Louis XV thirty years before; and one "deviant" aristocrat suspected of murder, the Comte de Solages, imprisoned by his father using a lettre de cachet (while the Marquis de Sade had been transferred out ten days earlier).

The high cost of maintaining a garrisoned medieval fortress, for what was seen as having a limited purpose, had led to a decision being made shortly before the disturbances began to replace it with an open public space. Amid the tensions of July 1789, the building remained as a symbol of royal tyranny.

The regular garrison consisted of 82 invalides (veteran soldiers no longer suitable for service in the field). It had however been reinforced on 7 July by 32 grenadiers of the Swiss Salis-Samade Regiment from the regular troops on the Champ de Mars. The walls mounted 18 eight-pound guns and 12 smaller pieces. The governor was Bernard-René de Launay, son of a previous governor and actually born within the Bastille.

Arrest of Launay by an unknown artist. An analysis in 2013 of the Bastille's dimensions showed that it did not tower over the neighborhood as depicted in the paintings, but was a comparable height to other buildings in the neighborhood.

The official list of vainqueurs de la Bastille (conquerors of the Bastille) subsequently compiled has 954 names, and the total of the crowd was probably fewer than one thousand. A breakdown of occupations included in the list indicates that the majority were local artisans, together with some regular army deserters and a few distinctive categories, such as 21 wine merchants.

The crowd gathered outside the fortress around mid-morning, calling for the pulling back of the seemingly threatening cannon from the embrasures of the towers and walls and the release of the arms and gunpowder stored inside. Two representatives from the Hotel de Ville (municipal authorities from the Town Hall) were invited into the fortress and negotiations began, while another was admitted around noon with definite demands. The negotiations dragged on while the crowd grew and became impatient. Around 1:30 pm, the crowd surged into the undefended outer courtyard. A small party climbed onto the roof of a building next to the gate to the inner courtyard of the fortress and broke the chains on the drawbridge, crushing one vainqueur as it fell. Soldiers of the garrison called to the people to withdraw, but amid the noise and confusion these shouts were misinterpreted as encouragement to enter. Gunfire began, apparently spontaneously, turning the crowd into a mob. The crowd seems to have felt that they had been intentionally drawn into a trap and the fighting became more violent and intense, while attempts by deputies to organise a cease-fire were ignored by the attackers.

The firing continued, and after 3:00 pm, the attackers were reinforced by mutinous gardes françaises, along with two cannons. A substantial force of Royal Army troops encamped on the Champ de Mars did not intervene. With the possibility of mutual carnage suddenly apparent, Governor de Launay ordered the garrison to cease firing at 5:00 pm. A letter written by de Launay offering surrender but threatening to explode the powder stocks held if the garrison were not permitted to evacuate the fortress unharmed, was handed out to the besiegers through a gap in the inner gate. His demands were not met, but Launay nonetheless capitulated, as he realised that with limited food stocks and no water supply his troops could not hold out much longer. He accordingly opened the gates, and the vainqueurs swept in to take over the fortress at 5:30 pm.

Ninety-eight attackers and one defender had died in the actual fighting, a disparity accounted for by the protection provided to the garrison by the fortress walls. Launay was seized and dragged towards the Hôtel de Ville in a storm of abuse. Outside the Hôtel, a discussion as to his fate began. The badly beaten Launay shouted "Enough! Let me die!" and kicked a pastry cook named Dulait in the groin. Launay was then stabbed repeatedly and died. An English traveller, Doctor Edward Rigby, reported what he saw, "[We] perceived two bloody heads raised on pikes, which were said to be the heads of the Marquis de Launay, Governor of the Bastille, and of Monsieur Flesselles, Prévôt des Marchands. It was a chilling and a horrid sight! ... Shocked and disgusted at this scene, [we] retired immediately from the streets."

The three officers of the permanent Bastille garrison were also killed by the crowd; surviving police reports detail their wounds and clothing.

Three of the invalides of the garrison were lynched plus two of the Swiss regulars of the Salis-Samade Regiment. The remaining Swiss were protected by the French Guards and eventually released to return to their regiment. Their officer, Lieutenant Louis de Flue of the Salis-Samade Regiment wrote a detailed report on the defense of the Bastille, which was incorporated in the logbook of the Salis-Samade and has survived. It is (perhaps unfairly) critical of the dead Marquis de Launay, whom Flue accuses of weak and indecisive leadership. The blame for the fall of the Bastille would rather appear to lie with the inertia of the commanders of the 5,000 Royal Army troops encamped on the Champ de Mars, who did not act when either the nearby Hôtel des Invalides or the Bastille were attacked.

Engraving, c. 1789: militia hoisting the heads of Flesselles and the Marquis de Launay on pikes. The caption reads "Thus we take revenge on traitors".
Sans-culottes wearing iconic Phrygian caps and tricolor cockades

Returning to the Hôtel de Ville, the mob accused the prévôt dès marchands (roughly, mayor) Jacques de Flesselles of treachery, and he was assassinated on the way to an ostensible trial at the Palais-Royal.

The Place de la Bastille and the July Column where the Bastille once stood.

The king first learned of the storming only the next morning through the Duke of La Rochefoucauld. "Is it a revolt?" asked Louis XVI. The duke replied: "No sire, it's not a revolt; it's a revolution."

At Versailles the Assembly were for a few hours ignorant of most of the Paris events. The representatives remained however concerned that the Marshal de Broglie might still unleash a pro-Royalist coup to force them to adopt the order of 23 June, and then dissolve the Assembly. Noailles apparently was first to bring reasonably accurate news of the Paris events to Versailles. M. Ganilh and Bancal-des-Issarts, dispatched to the Hôtel de Ville, confirmed his report.

By the morning of 15 July, the outcome appeared clear to the king as well, and he and his military commanders backed down. The twenty-three regiments of Royal troops concentrated around Paris were dispersed to their frontier garrisons. The Marquis de la Fayette took up command of the National Guard at Paris; Jean-Sylvain Bailly – leader of the Third Estate and instigator of the Tennis Court Oath – became the city's mayor under a new governmental structure known as the Commune de Paris. The king announced that he would recall Necker and return from Versailles to Paris; on 17 July, in Paris, he accepted a tricolour cockade from Bailly and entered the Hôtel de Ville to cries of "Long live the King" and "Long live the Nation".

Political

Immediately after the violence of 14 July members of the nobility – little assured by the apparent and, as it was to prove, temporary reconciliation of king and people – started to flee the country as émigrés. Among the first to leave were the comte d'Artois (the future Charles X of France) and his two sons, the prince de Condé, the prince de Conti, the Polignac family, and (slightly later) Charles Alexandre de Calonne, the former finance minister. They settled at Turin, where Calonne, as agent for the count d'Artois and the prince de Condé, began plotting civil war within the kingdom and agitating for a European coalition against France.

The news of the successful insurrection at Paris spread throughout France. In accord with principles of popular sovereignty and with complete disregard for claims of royal authority, the people established parallel structures of municipalities for civic government and militias for civic protection. In rural areas, many went beyond this: some burned title-deeds and no small number of châteaux, as the "Great Fear" spread across the countryside during the weeks of 20 July to 5 August, with attacks on wealthy landlords impelled by the belief that the aristocracy was trying to put down the revolution.

On 16 July 1789, two days after the Storming of the Bastille, John Frederick Sackville, serving as ambassador to France, reported to Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Francis Osborne, 5th Duke of Leeds, "Thus, my Lord, the greatest revolution that we know anything of has been effected with, comparatively speaking—if the magnitude of the event is considered—the loss of very few lives. From this moment we may consider France as a free country, the King a very limited monarch, and the nobility as reduced to a level with the rest of the nation."

On 22 July 1789 the populace lynched Controller-General of Finances Joseph Foullon de Doué and his son-in-law Louis Bénigne François Bertier de Sauvigny. Both had held official positions under the monarchy.

About 900 people who claimed to have stormed the Bastille received certificates (Brevet de vainqueur de la Bastille) from the National Assembly in 1790, and a number of these still exist.

Demolition of Bastille

Although there were arguments that the Bastille should be preserved as a monument to liberation or as a depot for the new National Guard, the Permanent Committee of Municipal Electors at the Paris Town Hall gave the construction entrepreneur Pierre-François Palloy the commission of disassembling the building. Palloy commenced work immediately, employing about 1,000 workers. The demolition of the fortress itself, the melting down of its clock portraying chained prisoners, and the breaking up of four statues were all carried out within five months.

In 1790, Lafayette gave the wrought-iron, one-pound and three-ounce key to the Bastille to U.S. President George Washington. Washington displayed it prominently at government facilities and events in New York and in Philadelphia until shortly before his retirement in 1797. The key remains on display at Washington's residence of Mount Vernon.

Palloy also took bricks from the Bastille and had them carved into replicas of the fortress, which he sold, along with medals allegedly made from the chains of prisoners. Pieces of stone from the structure were sent to every district in France, and some have been located. Various other pieces of the Bastille also survive, including stones used to build the Pont de la Concorde bridge over the Seine, and one of the towers, which was found buried in 1899 and is now at Square Henri-Galli in Paris, as well as the clock bells and pulley system, which are now in the Musée d’Art Campanaire. The building itself is outlined in brick on the location where it once stood, as is the moat in the Paris Metro stop below it, where a piece of the foundation is also on display.

  1. Claude Cholat was a wine merchant living in Paris on the rue Noyer at the start of 1789. Cholat fought on the side of the Revolutionaries during the storming of the Bastille, manning one of their cannon during the battle. Afterwards, Cholat produced a famous amateur gouache painting showing the events of the day; produced in primitive, naïve style, it combines all the events of the day into a single graphical representation.
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Storming of the Bastille
Storming of the Bastille Language Watch Edit The Storming of the Bastille French Prise de la Bastille pʁiz de la bastij was an event that occurred in Paris France on the afternoon of 14 July 1789 when revolutionaries stormed and seized control of the medieval armory fortress and political prison known as the Bastille At the time the Bastille represented royal authority in the centre of Paris The prison contained only seven inmates at the time of its storming but was seen by the revolutionaries as a symbol of the monarchy s abuse of power its fall was the flashpoint of the French Revolution Storming of the BastillePart of the French RevolutionStorming of The Bastille Jean Pierre HouelDate14 July 1789 232 years ago 1789 07 14 LocationParis Ile de France France48 51 11 N 2 22 09 E 48 85306 N 2 36917 E 48 85306 2 36917 Coordinates 48 51 11 N 2 22 09 E 48 85306 N 2 36917 E 48 85306 2 36917ResultInsurgent victory Bastille capturedBelligerentsCivilian insurgents French Guards mutineersRoyal governmentCommanders and leadersPierre Hulin 1 Stanislas Maillard Jacob Elie 2 Bernard Rene Jourdan de Launay StrengthBetween 688 to 1 000 armed civilian insurgents 61 French Guards at least five artillery pieces114 soldiers 82 Invalides veterans 32 Swiss soldiers of the Salis Samade Regiment 30 artillery piecesCasualties and losses98 killed 73 wounded1 killed in fighting 113 captured six or possibly eight killed after surrender In France 14 July is the national holiday usually called Bastille Day in English Contents 1 Background 2 Necker s dismissal 3 Armed conflict 4 Storming the Bastille 14 July 1789 5 14 to 15 July immediate reaction 6 Aftermath 6 1 Political 6 2 Demolition of Bastille 7 Notes 8 References 8 1 Additional sources 9 Further reading 10 External linksBackground EditDuring the reign of Louis XVI France faced a major economic crisis This crisis was caused in part by the cost of intervening in the American Revolution and exacerbated by a regressive system of taxation as well as poor harvests in the late 1780s 3 On 5 May 1789 the Estates General convened to deal with this issue but were held back by archaic protocols and the conservatism of the Second Estate representing the nobility 4 who made up less than 2 of France s population 5 On 17 June 1789 the Third Estate with its representatives drawn from the commoners reconstituted itself as the National Assembly a body whose purpose was the creation of a French constitution The king initially opposed this development but was forced to acknowledge the authority of the assembly which renamed itself the National Constituent Assembly on 9 July 6 Paris close to insurrection and in Francois Mignet s words intoxicated with liberty and enthusiasm 7 showed wide support for the Assembly The press published the Assembly s debates political debate spread beyond the Assembly itself into the public squares and halls of the capital The Palais Royal and its grounds became the site of an ongoing meeting 8 The crowd on the authority of the meeting at the Palais Royal broke open the prisons of the Abbaye to release some grenadiers of the French guards reportedly imprisoned for refusing to fire on the people 9 The Assembly recommended the imprisoned guardsmen to the clemency of the king they returned to prison and received a pardon The rank and file of the regiment previously considered reliable now leaned toward the popular cause 10 Necker s dismissal EditOn 11 July 1789 Louis XVI acting under the influence of the conservative nobles of his privy council dismissed and banished his finance minister Jacques Necker who had been sympathetic to the Third Estate and completely reconstituted the ministry 11 The marshals Victor Francois duc de Broglie la Galissonniere the duc de la Vauguyon the Baron Louis de Breteuil and the intendant Foulon took over the posts of Puysegur Armand Marc comte de Montmorin La Luzerne Saint Priest and Necker Jacques Necker 1732 1804 French minister of finance News of Necker s dismissal reached Paris on the afternoon of Sunday 12 July The Parisians generally presumed that the dismissal marked the start of a coup by conservative elements 12 Liberal Parisians were further enraged by the fear that a concentration of Royal troops brought in from frontier garrisons to Versailles Sevres the Champ de Mars and Saint Denis would attempt to shut down the National Constituent Assembly which was meeting in Versailles Crowds gathered throughout Paris including more than ten thousand at the Palais Royal Camille Desmoulins successfully rallied the crowd by mounting a table pistol in hand exclaiming Citizens there is no time to lose the dismissal of Necker is the knell of a Saint Bartholomew for patriots This very night all the Swiss and German battalions will leave the Champ de Mars to massacre us all one resource is left to take arms 7 The Swiss and German regiments referred to were among the foreign mercenary troops who made up a significant portion of the pre revolutionary Royal Army and were seen as being less likely to be sympathetic to the popular cause than ordinary French soldiers 13 By early July approximately half of the 25 000 regular troops in Paris and Versailles were drawn from these foreign regiments 14 The French regiments included in the concentration appear to have been selected either because of the proximity of their garrisons to Paris or because their colonels were supporters of the reactionary court party opposed to reform 6 During the public demonstrations that started on 12 July the multitude displayed busts of Necker and of Louis Philippe II Duke of Orleans then marched from the Palais Royal through the theater district before continuing westward along the boulevards The crowd clashed with the Royal German Cavalry Regiment Royal Allemand between the Place Vendome and the Tuileries Palace From atop the Champs Elysees the Prince de Lambesc unleashed a cavalry charge that dispersed the remaining protesters at Place Louis XV now Place de la Concorde 15 The Royal commander Baron de Besenval fearing the results of a blood bath amongst the poorly armed crowds or defections among his own men then withdrew the cavalry towards Sevres 16 Meanwhile unrest was growing among the people of Paris who expressed their hostility against state authorities by attacking customs posts blamed for causing increased food and wine prices 17 The people of Paris started to plunder any place where food guns and supplies might be hoarded That night rumors spread that supplies were hoarded at Saint Lazare a huge property of the clergy which functioned as a convent hospital school and even a jail An angry mob broke in and plundered the property 18 seizing 52 wagons of wheat which were taken to the public market That same day multitudes of people plundered many other places including weapon arsenals Royal troops did nothing to stop the spreading of social chaos in Paris during those days 19 Armed conflict Edit The Bastille of Paris before the Revolution The regiment of Gardes Francaises French Guards formed the permanent garrison of Paris and with many local ties was favourably disposed towards the popular cause 20 This regiment had remained confined to its barracks during the initial stages of the mid July disturbances With Paris becoming the scene of a general riot Charles Eugene Prince of Lambesc Marshal of the Camp Proprietor of the Royal Allemand Dragoons not trusting the regiment to obey his order posted sixty dragoons to station themselves before its depot in the Chaussee d Antin The officers of the French Guards made ineffectual attempts to rally their men The rebellious citizenry had now acquired a trained military contingent As word of this spread the commanders of the royal forces encamped on the Champ de Mars became doubtful of the dependability of even the foreign regiments 21 The future Citizen King Louis Philippe duc d Orleans witnessed these events as a young officer and was of the opinion that the soldiers would have obeyed orders if put to the test He also commented in retrospect that the officers of the French Guards had neglected their responsibilities in the period before the uprising leaving the regiment too much to the control of its non commissioned officers 22 However the uncertain leadership of Besenval led to a virtual abdication of royal authority in central Paris On the morning of 13 July the electors of Paris met and agreed to the recruitment of a bourgeois militia of 48 000 men 18 from the sixty voting districts of Paris to restore order 23 Their identifying cockades were of blue and red the colours of Paris Lafayette was elected commander of this group on 14 July and subsequently changed its name to the National Guard He added the colour white the colour of the King to the cockade on 27 July to make the famous French tri colour Storming the Bastille 14 July 1789 Edit People in the Castle of Bastille Musee de la Revolution francaise An eyewitness painting of the siege of the Bastille by Claude Cholat A A plan of the Bastille and surrounding buildings made immediately after 1789 the red dot marks the perspective of Claude Cholat s painting of the siege On the morning of 14 July 1789 the city of Paris was in a state of alarm The partisans of the Third Estate in France now under the control of the Bourgeois Militia of Paris soon to become Revolutionary France s National Guard had earlier stormed the Hotel des Invalides without meeting significant opposition 25 Their intention had been to gather the weapons held there 29 000 to 32 000 muskets but without powder or shot The commandant at the Invalides had in the previous few days taken the precaution of transferring 250 barrels of gunpowder to the Bastille for safer storage 26 At this point the Bastille was nearly empty housing only seven prisoners 27 four forgers arrested under warrants issued by the Grand Chatelet court James F X Whyte an Irish born lunatic suspected of spying and imprisoned at the request of his family Auguste Claude Tavernier who had tried to assassinate Louis XV thirty years before and one deviant aristocrat suspected of murder the Comte de Solages 28 imprisoned by his father using a lettre de cachet while the Marquis de Sade had been transferred out ten days earlier 26 The high cost of maintaining a garrisoned medieval fortress for what was seen as having a limited purpose had led to a decision being made shortly before the disturbances began to replace it with an open public space 29 Amid the tensions of July 1789 the building remained as a symbol of royal tyranny 30 The regular garrison consisted of 82 invalides veteran soldiers no longer suitable for service in the field 31 It had however been reinforced on 7 July by 32 grenadiers of the Swiss Salis Samade Regiment from the regular troops on the Champ de Mars 32 The walls mounted 18 eight pound guns and 12 smaller pieces The governor was Bernard Rene de Launay son of a previous governor and actually born within the Bastille 26 Arrest of Launay by Jean Baptiste Lallemand 1790 Musee de la Revolution francaise Arrest of Launay by an unknown artist An analysis in 2013 of the Bastille s dimensions showed that it did not tower over the neighborhood as depicted in the paintings but was a comparable height to other buildings in the neighborhood 33 The official list of vainqueurs de la Bastille conquerors of the Bastille subsequently compiled has 954 names 34 and the total of the crowd was probably fewer than one thousand A breakdown of occupations included in the list indicates that the majority were local artisans together with some regular army deserters and a few distinctive categories such as 21 wine merchants 35 The crowd gathered outside the fortress around mid morning calling for the pulling back of the seemingly threatening cannon from the embrasures of the towers and walls 36 and the release of the arms and gunpowder stored inside 26 Two representatives from the Hotel de Ville municipal authorities from the Town Hall 37 were invited into the fortress and negotiations began while another was admitted around noon with definite demands The negotiations dragged on while the crowd grew and became impatient 36 Around 1 30 pm the crowd surged into the undefended outer courtyard 38 A small party climbed onto the roof of a building next to the gate to the inner courtyard of the fortress and broke the chains on the drawbridge crushing one vainqueur as it fell Soldiers of the garrison called to the people to withdraw but amid the noise and confusion these shouts were misinterpreted as encouragement to enter 5 Gunfire began apparently spontaneously turning the crowd into a mob The crowd seems to have felt that they had been intentionally drawn into a trap and the fighting became more violent and intense while attempts by deputies to organise a cease fire were ignored by the attackers 5 The firing continued and after 3 00 pm the attackers were reinforced by mutinous gardes francaises along with two cannons A substantial force of Royal Army troops encamped on the Champ de Mars did not intervene 39 With the possibility of mutual carnage suddenly apparent Governor de Launay ordered the garrison to cease firing 40 at 5 00 pm A letter written by de Launay offering surrender but threatening to explode the powder stocks held if the garrison were not permitted to evacuate the fortress unharmed was handed out to the besiegers through a gap in the inner gate 40 His demands were not met but Launay nonetheless capitulated as he realised that with limited food stocks and no water supply 35 his troops could not hold out much longer He accordingly opened the gates and the vainqueurs swept in to take over the fortress at 5 30 pm 40 Ninety eight attackers and one defender had died in the actual fighting a disparity accounted for by the protection provided to the garrison by the fortress walls 41 Launay was seized and dragged towards the Hotel de Ville in a storm of abuse Outside the Hotel a discussion as to his fate began 42 The badly beaten Launay shouted Enough Let me die 43 and kicked a pastry cook named Dulait in the groin Launay was then stabbed repeatedly and died An English traveller Doctor Edward Rigby reported what he saw We perceived two bloody heads raised on pikes which were said to be the heads of the Marquis de Launay Governor of the Bastille and of Monsieur Flesselles Prevot des Marchands It was a chilling and a horrid sight Shocked and disgusted at this scene we retired immediately from the streets 44 The three officers of the permanent Bastille garrison were also killed by the crowd surviving police reports detail their wounds and clothing 45 Three 46 of the invalides of the garrison were lynched plus two 32 of the Swiss regulars of the Salis Samade Regiment The remaining Swiss were protected by the French Guards 47 and eventually released to return to their regiment 48 Their officer Lieutenant Louis de Flue of the Salis Samade Regiment wrote a detailed report on the defense of the Bastille which was incorporated in the logbook of the Salis Samade and has survived 49 It is perhaps unfairly critical of the dead Marquis de Launay whom Flue accuses of weak and indecisive leadership 49 The blame for the fall of the Bastille would rather appear to lie with the inertia of the commanders of the 5 000 50 Royal Army troops encamped on the Champ de Mars who did not act when either the nearby Hotel des Invalides or the Bastille were attacked 51 Engraving c 1789 militia hoisting the heads of Flesselles and the Marquis de Launay on pikes The caption reads Thus we take revenge on traitors Sans culottes wearing iconic Phrygian caps and tricolor cockades Returning to the Hotel de Ville the mob accused the prevot des marchands roughly mayor Jacques de Flesselles of treachery and he was assassinated on the way to an ostensible trial at the Palais Royal 52 The Place de la Bastille and the July Column where the Bastille once stood The king first learned of the storming only the next morning through the Duke of La Rochefoucauld Is it a revolt asked Louis XVI The duke replied No sire it s not a revolt it s a revolution 53 14 to 15 July immediate reaction EditAt Versailles the Assembly were for a few hours ignorant of most of the Paris events The representatives remained however concerned that the Marshal de Broglie might still unleash a pro Royalist coup to force them to adopt the order of 23 June 54 and then dissolve the Assembly Noailles apparently was first to bring reasonably accurate news of the Paris events to Versailles M Ganilh and Bancal des Issarts dispatched to the Hotel de Ville confirmed his report 55 By the morning of 15 July the outcome appeared clear to the king as well and he and his military commanders backed down 56 The twenty three regiments of Royal troops concentrated around Paris were dispersed to their frontier garrisons 57 The Marquis de la Fayette took up command of the National Guard at Paris 58 Jean Sylvain Bailly leader of the Third Estate and instigator of the Tennis Court Oath became the city s mayor under a new governmental structure known as the Commune de Paris 59 The king announced that he would recall Necker and return from Versailles to Paris on 17 July in Paris he accepted a tricolour cockade from Bailly and entered the Hotel de Ville to cries of Long live the King and Long live the Nation 60 Aftermath EditPolitical Edit Immediately after the violence of 14 July members of the nobility little assured by the apparent and as it was to prove temporary reconciliation of king and people started to flee the country as emigres 61 Among the first to leave were the comte d Artois the future Charles X of France and his two sons the prince de Conde the prince de Conti the Polignac family and slightly later Charles Alexandre de Calonne the former finance minister They settled at Turin where Calonne as agent for the count d Artois and the prince de Conde began plotting civil war within the kingdom and agitating for a European coalition against France 62 The news of the successful insurrection at Paris spread throughout France In accord with principles of popular sovereignty and with complete disregard for claims of royal authority the people established parallel structures of municipalities for civic government and militias for civic protection 23 In rural areas many went beyond this some burned title deeds and no small number of chateaux as the Great Fear spread across the countryside during the weeks of 20 July to 5 August with attacks on wealthy landlords impelled by the belief that the aristocracy was trying to put down the revolution 63 64 On 16 July 1789 two days after the Storming of the Bastille John Frederick Sackville serving as ambassador to France reported to Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Francis Osborne 5th Duke of Leeds Thus my Lord the greatest revolution that we know anything of has been effected with comparatively speaking if the magnitude of the event is considered the loss of very few lives From this moment we may consider France as a free country the King a very limited monarch and the nobility as reduced to a level with the rest of the nation 65 On 22 July 1789 the populace lynched Controller General of Finances Joseph Foullon de Doue and his son in law 66 Louis Benigne Francois Bertier de Sauvigny Both had held official positions under the monarchy About 900 people who claimed to have stormed the Bastille received certificates Brevet de vainqueur de la Bastille from the National Assembly in 1790 and a number of these still exist 67 Demolition of Bastille Edit Although there were arguments that the Bastille should be preserved as a monument to liberation or as a depot for the new National Guard the Permanent Committee of Municipal Electors at the Paris Town Hall gave the construction entrepreneur Pierre Francois Palloy the commission of disassembling the building 68 Palloy commenced work immediately employing about 1 000 workers The demolition of the fortress itself the melting down of its clock portraying chained prisoners and the breaking up of four statues were all carried out within five months 69 In 1790 Lafayette gave the wrought iron one pound and three ounce key to the Bastille to U S President George Washington Washington displayed it prominently at government facilities and events in New York and in Philadelphia until shortly before his retirement in 1797 The key remains on display at Washington s residence of Mount Vernon 70 71 Palloy also took bricks from the Bastille and had them carved into replicas of the fortress which he sold along with medals allegedly made from the chains of prisoners Pieces of stone from the structure were sent to every district in France and some have been located Various other pieces of the Bastille also survive including stones used to build the Pont de la Concorde bridge over the Seine and one of the towers which was found buried in 1899 and is now at Square Henri Galli in Paris as well as the clock bells and pulley system which are now in the Musee d Art Campanaire The building itself is outlined in brick on the location where it once stood as is the moat in the Paris Metro stop below it where a piece of the foundation is also on display 72 Notes Edit Claude Cholat was a wine merchant living in Paris on the rue Noyer at the start of 1789 Cholat fought on the side of the Revolutionaries during the storming of the Bastille manning one of their cannon during the battle Afterwards Cholat produced a famous amateur gouache painting showing the events of the day produced in primitive naive style it combines all the events of the day into a single graphical representation 24 References Edit Lusebrink and Reichardt p 43 FOURTEENTH OF JULY 1789 Simon Schama Citizens A Chronicle of the French Revolution pp 60 71 ISBN 0 670 81012 6 Munro Price The Fall of the French Monarchy p 20 ISBN 0 330 48827 9 a b c Simon Schama Citizens A Chronicle of the French Revolution p 402 ISBN 0 670 81012 6 a b M J Sydenham The French Revolution p 46 B T Batsford Ltd London 1965 a b Mignet 1824 Chapter I Simon Schama Citizens A Chronicle of the French Revolution pp 370 71 ISBN 0 670 81012 6 Simon Schama Citizens A Chronicle of the French Revolution p 371 ISBN 0 670 81012 6 Simon Schama Citizens A Chronicle of the French Revolution p 375 ISBN 0 670 81012 6 Munro Price The Fall of the French Monarchy pp 85 87 ISBN 0 330 48827 9 Munro Price The Fall of the French Monarchy p 85 ISBN 0 330 48827 9 Munro Price p 76 The Fall of the French Monarchy ISBN 0 330 48827 9 Jaques Godechot The Taking of the Bastille July 14th 1789 p 258 Faber and Faber Ltd 1970 Micah Alpaugh The Politics of Escalation in French Revolutionary Protest Political Demonstrations Nonviolence and Violence in the Grandes journees of 1789 French History Fall 2009 Simon Schama Citizens A Chronicle of the French Revolution p 385 ISBN 0 670 81012 6 Richard Cobb and Colin James p 73 The French Revolution Voices From a Momentous Epoch 1789 1795 CN 8039 Guild Publishing 1988 a b Munro Price The Fall of the French Monarchy p 88 ISBN 0 330 48827 9 Louis Bergeron 1970 Le Monde et son Histoire Paris p Volume VII Chapter VI Micah Alpaugh The Politics of Escalation in French Revolutionary Protest Political Demonstrations Nonviolence and Violence in the Grandes Journees of 1789 French History 2009 Terry Crowdy French Revolutionary Infantry 1789 1802 p 6 ISBN 1 84176 660 7 Munro Price The Fall of the French Monarchy pp 96 97 ISBN 0 330 48827 9 Comments recorded in diary entries made by Louis Philipp during 1789 a b Richard Cobb and Colin James The French Revolution Voices From a Momentous Epoch 1789 1795 p 75 CN 8039 Guild Publishing 1988 Schama pp 340 2 fig 6 Richard Cobb and Colin James p 68 The French Revolution Voices From a Momentous Epoch 1789 1795 CN 8039 Guild Publishing 1988 a b c d Simon Schama p 399 Citizens A Chronicle of the French Revolution ISBN 0 670 81012 6 Civilisation A Personal View Kenneth Clark Penguin 1987 p 216 Jaques Godechot The Taking of the Bastille July 14th 1789 p 92 Faber and Faber Ltd 1970 Simon Schama p 398 Citizens A Chronicle of the French Revolution 1989 ISBN 0 670 81012 6 Jacques Godechot The Taking of the Bastille July 14 1789 p 87 Charles Scribner s Sons 1970 Connelly Owen 2006 The Wars of the French Revolution and Napoleon 1792 1815 New York Routledge p 18 a b Christopher J Tozzi p 54 Nationalizing France s Army Foreign Black and Jewish Troops in the French Military 1715 1831 ISBN 978 0 8139 3833 2 Pfanner Eric Paris 3D a Digital Model of the French Capital Nytimes com Retrieved 14 July 2018 Hibbert Christopher The French Revolution 1980 p 82 1982 Penguin Books edition a b Simon Schama Citizens A Chronicle of the French Revolution p 400 ISBN 0 670 81012 6 a b Schama 1989 pp 400 401 Schama 1989 pp 400 Schama 1989 p 402 Munro Price The Fall of the French Monarchy p 89 ISBN 0 330 48827 9 a b c Schama 1989 p 403 Schama 1989 pp 403 404 Schama 1989 p 404 Schama 1989 p 405 Rigby Edward Dr Rigby s Letters from France amp c in 1789 HardPress Publishing 2013 ISBN 978 1313441636 J B Morton appendix The Bastille Falls and other studies of the French Revolution Longmans Green amp Co London 1936 Professor Jacques Godechot page 244 The Taking of the Bastille July 14 1789 Charles Scribner s Sons New York 1970 Crowdy Terry 25 February 2004 French Revolutionary Infantry 1789 1802 p 9 ISBN 1 84176 660 7 Professor Jacques Godechot pages 292 299 The Taking of the Bastille July 14 1789 Charles Scribner s Sons New York 1970 a b Relation de la prise de la Bastille le 14 juillet 1789 par un de ses defenseurs in Revue Retrospective vol 4 Paris M J Taschereau 1834 Christopher Hibbert p 70 The French Revolution ISBN 978 0140049459 Jacques Godechot The Taking of the Bastille July 14 1789 pp 216 217 Charles Scribner s Sons 1970 Hibbert Christopher 1980 The Days of the French Revolution New York William Morrow and Co pp 69 82 ISBN 0 688 03704 6 Guy Chaussinand Nogaret La Bastille est prise Paris Editions Complexe 1988 p 102 The Seance royale of 23 June 1789 Fitchburg State College Retrieved 22 January 2009 Schama 1989 pp 419 420 Munro Price The Fall of the French Monarchy p 92 ISBN 0 330 48827 9 Jaques Godechot The Taking of the Bastille July 14th 1789 p 258 Faber and Faber Ltd 1970 Terry Crowdy French Revolutionary Infantry 1789 1802 p 9 ISBN 1 84176 660 7 Francois Furet and Mona Ozouf eds A Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution 1989 pp 519 28 M J Sydenham The French Revolution p 50 B T Batsford Ltd London 1965 Munro Price The Fall of the French Monarchy p 93 ISBN 0 330 48827 9 Richard Cobb and Colin James The French Revolution Voices From a Momentous Epoch 1789 1795 p 129 CN 8039 Guild Publishing 1988 M J Sydenham p 54 The French Revolution B T Batsford Ltd London 1965 Richard Cobb and Colin James The French Revolution Voices From a Momentous Epoch 1789 1795 p 77 CN 8039 Guild Publishing 1988 Alger John Goldworth Englishmen in the French Revolution Retrieved 14 July 2018 via Wikisource M J Sydenham p 55 The French Revolution B T Batsford Ltd London 1965 Brevet de vainqueur de la Bastille 1790 Criminocorpus org 14 July 1790 Retrieved 14 July 2018 Simon Schama p 412 Citizens A Chronicle of the French Revolution ISBN 0 670 81012 6 Simon Schama Citizens A Chronicle of the French Revolution p 414 ISBN 0 670 81012 6 Bastille Key Digital Encyclopedia of George Washington Mount Vernon Ladies Association Retrieved 10 April 2019 William J Bahr George Washington s Liberty Key Mount Vernon s Bastille Key p 8 ISBN 978 1537323374 web url http mentalfloss com article 57792 11 remnants bastille you can still see today 7Ctitle 11 Additional sources Edit Chisholm Hugh ed 1911 Bastille Encyclopaedia Britannica 3 11th ed Cambridge University Press p 502 This article incorporates text from the public domainHistory of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1814 by Francois Mignet 1824 as made available by Project Gutenberg Further reading Edit France portal History portal Alpaugh Micah The Politics of Escalation in French Revolutionary Protest Political Demonstrations Nonviolence and Violence in the Grandes journees of 1789 French History Fall 2009 Alpaugh Micah A Self Defining Bourgeoisie in the Early French Revolution The Milice bourgeoise the Bastille Days of 1789 and their Aftermath Journal of Social History 47 no 3 Spring 2014 696 720 Lusebrink Hans Jurgen Reichardt Rolf Schurer Norbert 1997 The Bastille Duke University Press ISBN 978 0 8223 1894 1 Mignet Francois Auguste 1824 History of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1814 Taylor David 1997 The French Revolution Heinemann pp 16 17 ISBN 978 0 435 31694 5 Stephens Henry Morse 1886 A History of the French Revolution C Scribner s Sons pp 128 68 Sewell William H Historical Events as Transformations of Structures Inventing Revolution at the Bastille Theory and Society 25 no 6 Dec 1996 841 81 Abbott John Stevens Cabot 1887 The French Revolution of 1789 as Viewed in the Light of Republican Institutions Jefferson Press pp 112 22 External links Edit Media related to Storming of the Bastille at Wikimedia Commons Place de la Bastille official French website in English Thomas Jefferson s letter to John Jay recounting the storming of the Bastille Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Storming of the Bastille amp oldid 1053068971, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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