While it is just July 14th in America, it is a holiday in France.
On July 14, 1789 the medieval prison, also known as the Bastille, was stormed and fell. At the time it only contained seven prisoners. Regardless, it was what some believe the beginning of the French Revolution. In France it is formerly known as Fete de la Federation (Federal Holiday (and I can’t get my accents to work)). We know it as Bastille Day.
I love history and most of the time my mind is in another century, which is probably why 99% of what is write is historical. My favorite periods, at the moment, are the Georgian and Regency, from our American Revolution on through approximately 1820. One of my latest fascinations is the history of the French Revolution. After two visits to the country I continue to research. The city is rich with history, bigger than life historical figures, architecture, etc. I am sure there is a book or two in there somewhere.
When last in Paris I was able to visit the site of this famous fortress. Of course, it no longer stands, but there is a sign on the side of a building so you know you are in the very spot where history took a turning point. There was much that led up to that day, and the people finally deciding enough was enough. They had reached their limit and wanted change for France and they viewed the Bastille as a symbol of royal tyranny. Though not the only prision in Paris, it was quite famous and known for having held “criminals” for speaking out against the king and queen.
Earlier in the day, the people had gathered arms after storming the Hotel des Invalides. However, they lacked powder and shot. This was stored at the Bastille. Around mid-morning a crowd gathered around the prison and demanded surrender and to hand over the munitions. Negotiations did take place but they were taking too long and the crowd lost their patience. They surged into the inner courtyard and the gunfire followed. It is unknown who fired the first shot and the fighting became violent. Some tried to call for a cease-fire, but it went unheeded.
The Royal Army troops who were camped on the nearby Champs de Mars did not intervene and eventually Governor de Launay ordered a cease fire. His order was ignored and when he realized his troops could not hold out any longer, he opened the gates and the Bastille was liberated. The death toll was ninety-eight attackers and one defender. The Governor was seized, beaten, stabbed and killed. His head was then cut off, placed on a pike and carried through the streets. Three officers of the Bastille were killed by the crowd.
Those at Versailles were ignorant of this attack and what was happening in Paris.
If you are wondering why I am visiting the Bastille, besides it being a French holiday, it is because I have been participating in a blog challenge called Paris in July at my own blog. Stop by if you have a love for Paris and France.
Amy De Trempe is the author of Loving Lydia and soon-to-be released, Pure is the Heart. Both Historical Romance Novels with an inspirational touch.