Thursday, July 14, 2016

Storming of the Bastille

Liberty Leading the People by Eugene Delacroix
This painting has become a symbol of the French Revolution

I love the French Revolution!  I could talk about it all day.  I love Robespierre, and one year I read every book I could get my hands on!  Then one night i had a dream that I time traveled back to Revolutionary France, and had dinner with Robespierre.  I knew I had tto stop reading!

Today is Bastille Day in France (July 14th) - their Independence Day!  The storming of the Bastille was a significant moment in the French Revolution.  France was divided into 3 Estates.  The second Estate was the nobility of France, and they wanted more power in society.  France had a Monarch who did not want to give the 2nd Estate more power.

Louis the 16th - King of France during thee Revolution

France was in a  financial crisis.  Every financial adviser told King Louis that he must tax the 2nd Estate.  The 1st and 2nd Estate did not pay taxes.  The 3rd Estate did, and what was ironic was that the 3rd Estate was poor, and did not have money.  No wonder France could not get out of debt!  Every time King Louis mentioned the 2nd Estate paying taxes - they freaked out!  King Louis had a plan to tax them, and instead of making them pay - he asked them to vote on it.  

One problem with King Louis the 16th had no back bone!  With his  power he could just make them do it, but instead he engaged with them.  King Louis needed the 2nd Estate to vote so he called the Estates General.  It had not been called in over 150 years.  That tells you something.  The Estates General was made up of all three Estates, and each Estate has one vote.  King Louis the 16th wanted the Estates to vote on his tax measure, and be done with it!  He would of had no idea it would last the whole summer!

The Estates General

It is May 1789, and the 2nd Estate had no intention of voting.  Instead the debated and discussed.  Poor King Louis is asking everyone to vote!  But no one will!  He is very frustrated!  So he hired a foreign army to force the Estates General to vote!  The mobs in Paris heard this news, and wanted to protect the General.  To do that they stormed the Bastille to get weapons and demolish the symbol of the old regime.

The Bastille represented the Old Regime or King Louis the 16th.  That is why this prison was selected! There were only less than 10 people in the prison, but it represented the evils of the monarchy!  They liberated the prisoners, took the weapons, tore the prison down brick by brick, and marched to Versailles where the Estates General was to protect them from the monarchy.

They used the bricks from the Bastille to build a bridge going to the assembly - so for the rest of time people would trample on the old regime.  This was a big moment!

The bridge built with the Bastille

What is left of the Bastille - it is a subway stop in Paris

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