Thursday, July 14, 2005

Happy Bastille Day
Why is today unlike any other day? Simple:

[T]he people of Paris stormed the Bastille, a prison where people were jailed by arbitrary decision of the King (lettre de cachet). The Bastille was, in particular, known for holding political prisoners whose writings had displeased the royal government. Thus the Bastille was a symbol of the absolutism of the monarchy.

There were only 7 inmates housed at the time of the siege. The storming of the Bastille was more important as a rallying point and symbolic act of rebellion than a practical act of defiance. No less important in the history of France, it was not the image typically conjured up of courageous French patriots storming the Bastille and freeing hundreds of oppressed peasants. However, it did immediately inspire preparations amongst the peasants for the very real threat of retaliation.
That's right! The French people won a (sort of) military victory!

Granted it was a hollow victory against an unprepared enemy that resulted in immediate preparations to get their butts kicked. But still, the French found an enemy they could defeat—themselves!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

OK, I do not have too much love left for the French either, due to my national origin. However, I've known some French individuals who turned out to be really nice. So, your generalization seems like a cheap shot. In addition, please don't reduce the history of the French revolution into one sentence. One of the triggers seems to have been the dire straits the French middle class was in due to increased taxes necessitated by French support to the American revolution. Let's not forget history.

Antonie said...

Sorry, you wanted my name.