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Bastille Day

Information about Bastille Day

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Jacques Necker, the Finance Minister of Louis XVI, who was sympathetic to the Third Estate, was dismissed by the king on 11 July 1789. The people of Paris then stormed the Bastille, fearful that they and their representatives would be attacked by the royal army or by foreign regiments of mercenaries in the king's service, and seeking to gain ammunition and gunpowder for the general populace. The Bastille was a fortress-prison in Paris that had often held people jailed on the basis of lettres de cachet (literally "signet letters"), arbitrary royal indictments that could not be appealed and did not indicate the reason for the imprisonment. The Bastille held a large cache of ammunition and gunpowder, and was also known for holding political prisoners whose writings had displeased the royal government, and was thus a symbol of the absolutism of the monarchy. As it happened, at the time of the attack in July 1789, there were only seven inmates, none of great political significance. Preceding this on 14 July itself was the siege of Hôtel des Invalides (Les Invalides) for firearms, muskets, and canons, stored in its cellars, by rioting Parisians.