Fall of the Bastille (Chronology of European History)
Article abstract: The fall of the Bastille signals the emergence of the Parisian crowd as a potent political force when they seize this symbol of royal oppression.
Summary of Event
The storming of the Bastille was the climax of the Paris Revolution of July, 1789, a time marked by the determination of Paris crowds to defend the French Revolution against perceived royalist threats to disband the National Assembly, which had been meeting since June at Versailles, and restore absolutism. Composed of the original three estates which the king had summoned in May, 1789, to deal with the government’s financial problems, the National Assembly represented the hopes and aspirations of most Frenchmen for extensive political, social, and economic reform.
During the early part of July, Parisians began to fear that King Louis XVI was planning to use mercenary troops to carry out a military coup d’état. The people of Paris became alarmed when the learned that the king was moving Swiss and German mercenary soldiers, whose loyalty was thought to be more dependable than French troops, from the provinces to positions around Versailles and the capital. Ostensibly, Louis XVI claimed that he wanted only to protect the National Assembly against possible disruption and prevent a recurrence of the April Révellion riots, which local authorities had been unable to quell. To most Parisians and members of the National...
(The entire section is 1460 words.)
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