The storming of Bastille

The Storming Of Bastille (French Revolution)

The revolt or the storming of the Bastille was the result of a political crisis. King Louis XVI and his entourage did not approve the new Assembly even if they admitted to their defeat. Jacques Necker the famous Finance Minister was dismissed by the King on July 12th 1789. The rumor of a counter attack by the army of the King spread on Paris streets on July 13th 1789. This rumor was spread so that the Parliamentarians who were newly proclaimed could be destabilized.

On July 14, 1789, a huge and bloodthirsty mob marched towards Bastille. It was half past three in the afternoon. King Louis XVI the detested and unpopular king had taken prisoners and kept them at the Bastille. Bastille was also the storehouse for armaments and gunpowder. At the assault, there were also elements of the National Guard that was newly formed. The crowds which included craftsmen and salesmen also were very angry at rumors of starvation and governmental attacks.

To steal some of the weapons they ran to the Invalides so that they could fight back. At Invalides they stole around 28,000 rifles but they did not get gun powder. To get gun powder that was stocked at the Bastille, they had to attack it. At the Bastille, there were 80 veteran wounded soldiers who were ‘Invalides’ and 30 grenadiers. During that time the governor of ‘Invalides, was Marquis Bernard-Rene de Launay.

The guards were not impressed by the crowd. The revolutionaries were very angry and Marquis de Launay feared them. He called in a few representatives to meet him inside the prison for the sake of buying time so that the rescue team he was expecting would also reach the prison shortly for securing the castle. However the revolutionaries entered the fortress and the negotiations ended. People in their hundreds were killed when the guards opened fire upon the crowds.

How The Path Of Revolt Changed

When the rescue team reached, the path of revolt changed completely. The rescue team fought with the mob and used the skills of professional soldiers and canons. Thus they brought victory to the French people against King Louis XIV in just a few hours.

Security At Bastille

Since over a week, Bastille was being prepared for an attack. Angry subjects were also anticipated. Hence along the gargantuan fortresses and thick walls and also in between the towers around a dozen guns were placed that had the capacity of launching 24 ounce case shots at anyone who had the courage to attack. The Paris Commune was very defiant, livid and enraged to submit to the government’s unjust behavior and the starvation they were experiencing. The defenders could not have been prepared for anything better than what they met on that day.

Marquis de Launay the governor of Bastille prepared a small mob with help of Lieutenant Deflue and led 32 Swiss soldiers who had come to his aid on 7th July 1789. There were rumors everywhere and Marquis had expected a mob to attack but did not expect a siege. At Bastille the complete workforce was getting Bastille repaired and reinforced in preparation against any attack by angry citizens. It was 3 in the afternoon.

More than 300 angry citizens and French guards tried to break into the fortress. To put an end to the overbearing government and excessive taxation, they were ready to even give up their lives. Besides the numerous crowds, there were three hundred guards who had given up their posts the earlier day. Bastille felt threatened by this. The besiegers boldly broke into the arsenal, the first courtyard, broke down the drawbridge and entered through the wooden door. They made a demand for lowering down of the bridges but were not obliged.

Beheading Of Marquis De Lauany

Marquis de Lauany made a demand that only if his troops were allowed to leave in peace, he would surrender. However, he only faced rebuke. The mob wanted his head in a basket or on the noose. He was asked to lower the bridges by the vicious crowd. He sent a note to Hulin, the leader of the mob that he had twenty thousand pounds of gun powder and he would annihilate everything if his offer was not accepted. People were allowed into Bastille after the surrender of Marquis de Launay at 4 pm.

Finally on Launay’s command the bridges got lowered and the crowds captured him and his soldiers, dragging them through Paris’s filthiest streets. They beheaded Marquis de Launay, killed the guards and put the head of Marquis on a stake and as a sign of victory carried it all over the city. They cut off many heads in a crude manner while parading captives through the streets. Six insane prisoners from the Bastille were freed on July 14, 1789 at the time of storming. The next plan of the mob which King Louis XVI was not aware was to march to Versailles.

Why Was Bastille Built

To guard Paris’s one main entrance, the Bastille was built in the 14th century. It served as a prison by the 18th century for aristocratic and political prisoners. It was also used for storing arms. Certain authors, booksellers and printers who were considered seditious were also accommodated inside the fortress. People who opposed religious policies of the government were also imprisoned at Bastille. Voltaire was captured two times in1717 and 1726. He accused the Regent of incest and was suspected of writing verses against it.  Again he was imprisoned in 1726. There were just about 40 prisoners at Bastille all through the 18th century.

King Louis XVI’s Diary

King Louis XVI’s diary has been found by some of the historians. It was found that on the day of the storming on July 14th 1789, he had just written one word and that was ‘Nothing’. He had written the result of that day when the hunting took place. Duc de Liancourt the advisor, informed King Louis about the happenings at the fortress Bastille. Louis asked him if that attack was a revolt. The advisor replied his majesty that, it was not a revolt, it was indeed a revolution.

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