The capture of the Bastille and the beginning of the French bourgeois revolution

On July 14, 1789, an armed crowd marched to storm the Bastille in Paris. After four hours of firefight, the garrison of the fortress surrendered. The Great French Revolution began ...

By the end of the 18th century, France was on the verge of bankruptcy, and a third of the population of Paris was made up of beggars and vagabonds. In search of a way out of the financial impasse, King Louis XVI of France was forced on May 5, 1789 to convene the States General (the highest estate-representative institution convened by the king at critical moments in French history). Refusing to discuss particulars, on June 17, the deputies proclaimed themselves the National Assembly, and on June 23, they refused to obey the royal decree to dissolve them. On July 9, 1789, the Assembly named itself Constituent Assembly, proclaiming its goal to develop the constitutional foundations of a new political order.

The reason for the siege of the Bastille was rumors about the king's decision to disperse the Constituent Assembly, as well as the dismissal of the reformer Jacques Necker from the post of state controller of finance.

For many generations of the French, the Bastille fortress, where the garrison of the city guards, royal officials and, of course, the prison were located, was a symbol of the omnipotence of kings. Although initially its construction was purely military in nature - it began in the middle of the XIV century, when a hundred-year war was going on in France. After the devastating defeats at Cressy and Poitiers, the question of the defense of the capital was very acute and a boom in the construction of bastions and watchtowers began in Paris. Actually, from the very word (bastide or bastille) the name Bastille originated.

However, the fortress was immediately supposed to be used as a place of imprisonment for state criminals, which was quite common in the Middle Ages. It was expensive and not rational to build separate structures for this. The Bastille acquired its famous outlines during the reign of Charles V, during which time the construction was especially intensive. In fact, by 1382, the structure looked almost the same as it did when it fell in 1789.

On July 12, 1789, Camille Desmoulins delivered his speech at the Palais-Royal, after which a rebellion broke out. On July 13, the Arsenal, Les Invalides and the city hall were plundered, and on the 14th a large armed crowd approached the Bastille. Gulen and Eli, both officers of the royal army, were chosen to command the assault. The assault had not so much symbolic as practical meaning - the rebels were mainly interested in the Bastille arsenal, which could be used to arm the volunteers.

True, at first they tried to settle the matter peacefully - the delegation of the townspeople suggested that the commandant of the Bastille, the Marquis de Launay, voluntarily surrender the fortress and open the arsenals, to which he refused. After that, at about one o'clock in the afternoon, a firefight broke out between the defenders of the fortress and the rebels. Lone, knowing full well that there was nothing to count on help from Versailles, and that he could not resist this siege for a long time, decided to blow up the Bastille.

But at the very time when, with a lit fuse in his hands, he wanted to go down into the powder magazine, two non-commissioned officers Bekkar and Ferrand rushed at him, and, taking away the fuse, forced to convene a council of war. It was almost unanimously decided to surrender. A white flag was raised, and a few minutes later, over the lowered drawbridge, Gulen and Eli, followed by a huge crowd, entered the courtyard of the Bastille.

The matter was not without atrocities, and several officers and soldiers, led by the commandant, were immediately hanged. Seven of the Bastille prisoners were released, among them was the Comte de Lorges, who was imprisoned here for more than forty years. However, the reality of the existence of this prisoner raises doubts among many historians. Skeptics believe that this character and his entire story is a figment of the fantasy of the revolutionary journalist Jean-Louis Kapp. But it is reliably known that the extremely interesting Bastille archive was plundered, and only part of it has survived to our times.

The day after the assault, it was officially decided to destroy and demolish the Bastille. Work immediately began, which continued until May 16, 1791. From the broken stone of the fortress, miniature images of the Bastille were made and sold as souvenirs. In 1790, the bridge of Louis XVI (later the Bridge of the Revolution, and now the Bridge of Concord) was completed from its stones. Currently, in its place and to the east of it is the Place de la Bastille, in the center of which rises the July Column, erected in 1840.

The Parisian popular uprising on July 12-14, 1789, culminating in the capture of the Bastille, marked the beginning of the first French revolution, which radically changed the entire face of the country. In the minds of contemporaries and subsequent generations, the capture of the Bastille became a symbol of the fall of the absolutist regime. Since the 1880s, July 14 has become a national holiday in France.