Fall of the Bastille

Topics: French Revolution, Louis XVI of France, Estates of the realm Pages: 4 (1224 words) Published: March 2, 2002
Ce n'est pas une revolte, c'est une revolution!

"Your Majesty! They have stormed the Bastille!" exclaimed King Louis XVI's aide. "Is this a revolt?" asked the king.
"No, sire, it's a revolution."

On July 14, 1789, a huge, angry mob marched to the Bastille, a high security prison that symbolized royal tyranny, searching for gun powder and prisoners that had been taken by the unpopular and detested King, Louis XVI (Time Life 1999). The flying rumors of attacks from the government and the biting truth of starvation were just too much for the fuming crowds. The Bastille had been prepared for over a week, anticipating about a hundred angry subjects. But nothing could have prepared the defenders for what they met that now famous day. Along the thick rock walls of the gargantuan fortress and between the towers were twelve more guns that were capable of launching 24-ounce case shots at any who dared to attack. However, the enraged middle class population of Paris was too defiant and too livid to submit to the starvation and seeming injustice of their government (Time Life, 1999). It was the first time in European history that a group of commoners had overpowered the nobility. The storming of the Bastille on July 14th, 1789, has inspired other peoples to fight tyranny and gain independence from their oppressors. Given that the masses in other lands and at other times shared many of the problems that the French revolutionaries faced explains the widespread influence and symbolism of the Fall of the Bastille.

The main cause of the French Revolution involved the differences between the three different social classes in France (Soboul, 1977). This class structure left over from the ancien regime, the Middle Ages, consisted of three orders known as estates. The First Estate, the clergy, made up less than 1 percent of the population but owned about 20 percent of the land. The Second Estate, the nobles occupied about 4 percent of the population and also owned...
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