The Bastille was built in 1382 and was originally used to defend the east side of Paris from attack. The Bastille had walls more than 80 feet high and was surrounded by a moat. Hundreds of years later, the French monarchy converted The Bastille into a prison to lock up people who didn’t agree with their decisions. People were jailed by arbitrary decision of the King. The Bastille was, in particular, known for holding political prisoners whose writings had displeased the royal government. The prisoners inside the Bastille were given no trial – they were placed there under the King’s orders and only he could decide when and if they would be freed.
The French people of all classes were frustrated with many of the problems of their government, including wanting the King to share his absolute powers, the right to own land and vote, tithes, feudal rights and religious staff wanting more money.
For the peasant class, the Bastille stood as a symbol of the hypocrisy and corruption of the aristocratic government – controlled mostly by nobility and clergy. The monarchy wasn’t just undemocratic. The king and the aristocracy also owned the land and extracted not only the rent, but imposed taxes and restrictions on the people.
So, on July 14th, 1789 peasants stormed the Bastille, they pillaged and burned the chateaux as well as destroying all the records kept there, and so was born the French Revolution.
Viva la France, Vive la Révolution!
“Vanity made the [French] Revolution; liberty was only a pretext.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
“We need the real, nation-wide terror which reinvigorates the country and through which the Great French Revolution achieved glory” – Vladimir Lenin
“It was not reason that besieged Troy; it was not reason that sent forth the Saracen from the desert to conquer the world; that inspired the crusades; that instituted the monastic orders; it was not reason that produced the Jesuits; above all, it was not reason that created the French Revolution. Man is only great when he acts from the passions; never irresistible but when he appeals to the imagination.” – Benjamin Disraeli
"Any law which violates the inalienable rights of man is essentially unjust and tyrannical; it is not a law at all.” – Maximilien Robespierre