Bastille Day: Storm The Prison, Revolutionize The Country

By Jacob Shelton
(Bibliothèque nationale de France/Wikimedia Commons)

On July 14, 1789, A.K.A. Bastille Day, a crowd of Parisians stormed the Bastille and demolished the former stronghold of France. As a symbol of the French Revolution, the Bastille was important not only as a symbol of the silencing power of the upper class but as evidence that people can make their voices heard, no matter how small they feel.

Ahead Of Its Time

During the Hundred Years' War between England and France, the Bastille was built to protect Paris from an attack from the east. Construction of the towers began in 1370 and finished during the reign of Charles VI, around 1380. As one of the strongest fortified buildings of the era, the Bastille was a garrison that was ahead of its time. Historians note that the Bastille's walls and towers stood at the same height, which allowed soldiers to move through the fortress with ease rather than travel from level to level whenever strategy dictated. By 1420, Henry V had taken over the Bastille, which he used more as a prison than a military stronghold. It was reclaimed 16 years later after a standoff between the French and the English that resulted in Henry's men forfeiting the fortress, but its rightful owners had to admit he was onto something.