Bastille
Overview
The Bastille was a fortress
Castle
A castle is a type of fortified structure built in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages by European nobility. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble...

 in Paris, known formally as the Bastille Saint-Antoine. It played an important role in the internal conflicts of France and for most of its history was used as a state prison by the kings of France. The Bastille was built in response to the English threat to the city of Paris during the Hundred Years War.
Encyclopedia
The Bastille was a fortress
Castle
A castle is a type of fortified structure built in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages by European nobility. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble...

 in Paris, known formally as the Bastille Saint-Antoine. It played an important role in the internal conflicts of France and for most of its history was used as a state prison by the kings of France. The Bastille was built in response to the English threat to the city of Paris during the Hundred Years War. It was stormed
Storming of the Bastille
The storming of the Bastille occurred in Paris on the morning of 14 July 1789. The medieval fortress and prison in Paris known as the Bastille represented royal authority in the centre of Paris. While the prison only contained seven inmates at the time of its storming, its fall was the flashpoint...

 on 14 July 1789 during the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, becoming an important symbol for the French Republican movement, and was later completely demolished and built over by the Place de la Bastille
Place de la Bastille
The Place de la Bastille is a square in Paris, where the Bastille prison stood until the 'Storming of the Bastille' and its subsequent physical destruction between 14 July 1789 and 14 July 1790 during the French Revolution; no vestige of it remains....

, with the few remaining relics being placed on the nearby Boulevard Henri IV.

Initial work began in 1357, although the main body of construction occurred from 1370 onwards, creating a strong fortress with eight towers that protected the strategic gateway of the Porte Saint-Antoine
Porte Saint-Antoine
The porte Saint-Antoine was one of the gates of Paris. There were two gates named the porte Saint-Antoine, both now demolished, of which the best known was that guarded by the Bastille, on the site now occupied by the start of rue de la Bastille in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris.- The Faubourg...

 on the eastern edge of Paris. The innovative design proved influential in both France and England and was widely copied. In its lifetime, the Bastille played an important role in the internal conflicts of France, including the fighting between the rival factions of the Burgundians
Duchy of Burgundy
The Duchy of Burgundy , was heir to an ancient and prestigious reputation and a large division of the lands of the Second Kingdom of Burgundy and in its own right was one of the geographically larger ducal territories in the emergence of Early Modern Europe from Medieval Europe.Even in that...

 and the Armagnacs
Armagnac (party)
The Armagnac party was prominent in French politics and warfare during the Hundred Years' War. It was allied with the supporters of Charles, Duke of Orléans against John the Fearless after Charles' father Louis of Orléans was killed at the orders of the Duke of Burgundy in 1407...

 in the 15th century, and the Wars of Religion
French Wars of Religion
The French Wars of Religion is the name given to a period of civil infighting and military operations, primarily fought between French Catholics and Protestants . The conflict involved the factional disputes between the aristocratic houses of France, such as the House of Bourbon and House of Guise...

 in the 16th. The fortress was declared a state prison in 1417, and this role was expanded, first under the English occupiers
Henry V of England
Henry V was King of England from 1413 until his death at the age of 35 in 1422. He was the second monarch belonging to the House of Lancaster....

 of the 1420s and 1430s, and then under Louis XI
Louis XI of France
Louis XI , called the Prudent , was the King of France from 1461 to 1483. He was the son of Charles VII of France and Mary of Anjou, a member of the House of Valois....

 in the 1460s. The defences of the Bastille were strengthened in response to the English and Imperial
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 threat during the 1550s, with a bastion
Bastion
A bastion, or a bulwark, is a structure projecting outward from the main enclosure of a fortification, situated in both corners of a straight wall , facilitating active defence against assaulting troops...

 being constructed to the east of the fortress. In the 17th century the fortress played an important role in the rebellion of the Fronde
Fronde
The Fronde was a civil war in France, occurring in the midst of the Franco-Spanish War, which had begun in 1635. The word fronde means sling, which Parisian mobs used to smash the windows of supporters of Cardinal Mazarin....

 and the battle of the faubourg Saint-Antoine
Battle of the Faubourg St Antoine
The battle of the Faubourg St Antoine occurred on 2 July 1652 during the Fronde rebellion in France.-Details:During the period of the Second Fronde, between 1650 to 1653, Louis, the Prince of Condé, controlled much of Paris, having allied himself with the Parlement of Paris, which was in open...

 was fought beneath its walls in 1652.

Louis XIV
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

 used the Bastille primarily as a prison for upper-class members of French society who had opposed or angered him, including, after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, French Protestants. From 1659 onwards, the Bastille's primary role was as a state prison and by 1789 a total of 5,279 prisoners had come through the fortress. Under Louis XV
Louis XV of France
Louis XV was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1 September 1715 until his death. He succeeded his great-grandfather at the age of five, his first cousin Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, served as Regent of the kingdom until Louis's majority in 1723...

 and XVI
Louis XVI of France
Louis XVI was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre until 1791, and then as King of the French from 1791 to 1792, before being executed in 1793....

 the Bastille's focus shifted and it was used to detain prisoners from an increasingly wide range of backgrounds, and to support the operations of the Parisian police
Law enforcement in France
Law enforcement in France is conducted at the national and municipal level, and is the responsibility of a variety of law enforcement agencies. Three agencies operate at the national level, and at the local level each commune is able to maintain their own municipal police...

, especially in enforcing government censorship of the printed media. Although prisoners were kept in relatively good conditions, criticism of the Bastille grew during the 18th century, fuelled by autobiographies written by former prisoners. Reform of the prison began and prisoner numbers reduced considerably. In 1789 political tensions rose in France and on 14 July the Bastille was successfully stormed by a Revolutionary crowd, primarily residents of the faubourg
Faubourg
Faubourg is an ancient French term approximating "suburb" . The earliest form is Forsbourg, derived from Latin foris, 'out of', and Vulgar Latin burgum, 'town' or 'fortress'...

 Saint-Antoine who were attempting to commandeer the valuable gunpowder being held within the fortress. Seven remaining prisoners were released and the Bastille's governor, Bernard-René de Launay
Bernard-René de Launay
Bernard René Jourdan, marquis de Launay was the French governor of the Bastille, the son of a previous governor, and commander of its garrison when it was stormed on 14 July 1789 .-Early life:...

, was killed by the crowd. In the aftermath the Bastille was adopted by the Revolution as a symbol of despotism
Despotism
Despotism is a form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power. That entity may be an individual, as in an autocracy, or it may be a group, as in an oligarchy...

 – the storming of the fortress became an equally powerful symbol of the Revolution. The Bastille was demolished by order of the Committee of the Hôtel de Ville
Hôtel de Ville, Paris
The Hôtel de Ville |City Hall]]) in :Paris, France, is the building housing the City of Paris's administration. Standing on the place de l'Hôtel de Ville in the city's IVe arrondissement, it has been the location of the municipality of Paris since 1357...

 and the remains of the fortress were turned into Revolutionary relics, transported around France to reinforce the message of the Revolution.

In the 19th century the site and historical legacy of the Bastille featured prominently in French revolutions
July Revolution
The French Revolution of 1830, also known as the July Revolution or in French, saw the overthrow of King Charles X of France, the French Bourbon monarch, and the ascent of his cousin Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans, who himself, after 18 precarious years on the throne, would in turn be overthrown...

, political protests and popular fiction, and remained an important symbol for the French Republican movement. Today almost nothing is left of the Bastille except for remains of its stone foundation relocated on the side of the Boulevard Henri IV. Historians, initially deeply critical of the Bastille in the early 19th century, now believe the fortress to have been a relatively well-administered institution, albeit heavily implicated in the system of French policing and political control during the 18th century.

14th century

The Bastille was built in response to threat to Paris during the Hundred Years War between England and France. Prior to the building of the Bastille, the main royal castle in Paris was the Louvre, on the west of the capital, but the city had expanded by the middle of the 14th century and the eastern side was now potentially exposed to an English attack. The situation worsened after the imprisonment of John II in England following the French defeat at the battle of Poitiers
Battle of Poitiers (1356)
The Battle of Poitiers was fought between the Kingdoms of England and France on 19 September 1356 near Poitiers, resulting in the second of the three great English victories of the Hundred Years' War: Crécy, Poitiers, and Agincourt....

, and in his absence the Provost of Paris Étienne Marcel
Étienne Marcel
Etienne Marcel was provost of the merchants of Paris under King John II, called John the Good .Etienne Marcel was born into the wealthy Parisian bourgeoisie, being the son of the clothier Simon Marcel and his wife Isabelle Barbou...

 took steps to improve the capital's defences. In 1357 Marcel expanded the city walls and protected the Porte Saint-Antoine
Porte Saint-Antoine
The porte Saint-Antoine was one of the gates of Paris. There were two gates named the porte Saint-Antoine, both now demolished, of which the best known was that guarded by the Bastille, on the site now occupied by the start of rue de la Bastille in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris.- The Faubourg...

 with two high stone towers and a 78 foot (24 m) wide ditch. A fortified gateway of this sort was called a "bastille", and was one of two created in Paris, the other being built outside the Porte Saint-Denis
Porte Saint-Denis
The Porte Saint-Denis is a Parisian monument located in the 10th arrondissement, at the site of one of the gates of the Wall of Charles V, one of the now-destroyed fortifications of Paris...

. Marcel was subsequently removed from his post and executed in 1358.

In 1369 Charles V
Charles V of France
Charles V , called the Wise, was King of France from 1364 to his death in 1380 and a member of the House of Valois...

 became increasingly worried about the continued weakness of the eastern side of the city to English attacks and raids by mercenaries. Charles instructed Hugh Aubriot, the new provost, to build a much larger fortification on the same site as Marcel's bastille. Work began in 1370 and another pair of towers being built behind the first bastille, followed by two towers to the north, and finally two towers to the south. The fortress was probably not finished by the time that Charles died in 1380 and was completed by his son, Charles VI
Charles VI of France
Charles VI , called the Beloved and the Mad , was the King of France from 1380 to 1422, as a member of the House of Valois. His bouts with madness, which seem to have begun in 1392, led to quarrels among the French royal family, which were exploited by the neighbouring powers of England and Burgundy...

. The resulting structure became known simply as the Bastille, with the eight, irregularly built towers and linking curtain walls forming a structure 223 feet (68 m) wide and 121 feet (37 m) deep, the walls and towers 78 feet (24 m) high and 10 foot (3 m) thick at their bases. Built to the same height, the roofs of the towers and the tops of the walls formed a broad, crenellated walkway all the way around the fortress. Each of the newer six towers had underground "cachots", or dungeon
Dungeon
A dungeon is a room or cell in which prisoners are held, especially underground. Dungeons are generally associated with medieval castles, though their association with torture probably belongs more to the Renaissance period...

s, at their base, and curved "calotte", literally "shell", rooms in their roofs.
Garrisoned by a captain, a knight, eight squires and ten crossbowmen, the Bastille was encircled with ditches, fed by the River Seine and faced with stone. The fortress had four sets of drawbridges which allowed the Rue Saint-Antoine to pass eastwards through the Bastille's gates, while giving easy access to the city walls on the north and south sides. The Bastille overlooked the Saint-Antoine gate, which by 1380 was a strong, square building with turrets and protected by two drawbridges of its own. Charles V chose to live close to the Bastille for his own safety and created a royal complex to the south of the fortress called the Hôtel St. Paul, stretching from the Porte Saint-Paul up to the rue Saint-Antoine.

Historian Sidney Toy has described the Bastille as "one of the most powerful fortifications" of the period, and the most important fortification in late medieval Paris. The Bastille's design was highly innovative: it rejected both the 13th-century tradition of more weakly fortified quadrangular castle
Quadrangular castle
A quadrangular castle or courtyard castle is a type of castle characterised by ranges of buildings which are integral with the curtain walls, enclosing a central ward or quadrangle, and typically with angle towers. There is no keep and frequently no distinct gatehouse...

s, and the contemporary fashion set at Vincennes
Château de Vincennes
The Château de Vincennes is a massive 14th and 17th century French royal castle in the town of Vincennes, to the east of Paris, now a suburb of the metropolis.-History:...

, where tall towers were positioned around a lower wall, overlooked by an even taller keep in the centre. In particular, building the towers and the walls of the Bastille at the same height allowed the rapid movement of forces around the castle, as well as giving more space to move and position cannons on the wider walkways. The Bastille design was copied at Pierrefonds
Château de Pierrefonds
The Château de Pierrefonds is a castle situated in the commune of Pierrefonds in the Oise département of France. It is on the southeast edge of the Forest of Compiègne, north of Paris, between Villers-Cotterêts and Compiègne....

 and Tarascon
Tarascon
Tarascon , sometimes referred to as Tarascon-sur-Rhône, is a commune in the Bouches-du-Rhône department in southern France.-Geography:...

 in France, while its architectural influence can be seen as far away as Nunney Castle
Nunney Castle
Nunney Castle is a castle in Nunney, Somerset, England. Built in the late 14th century by Sir John Delamare on the profits of his involvement in the Hundred Years War, the moated castle's architectural style, possibly influenced by the design of French castles, has provoked considerable academic...

 in south-west England.

15th century

During the 15th century the French kings continued to face threats both from the English and from the attempts of the rival factions of the Burgundians
Duchy of Burgundy
The Duchy of Burgundy , was heir to an ancient and prestigious reputation and a large division of the lands of the Second Kingdom of Burgundy and in its own right was one of the geographically larger ducal territories in the emergence of Early Modern Europe from Medieval Europe.Even in that...

 and the Armagnacs
Armagnac (party)
The Armagnac party was prominent in French politics and warfare during the Hundred Years' War. It was allied with the supporters of Charles, Duke of Orléans against John the Fearless after Charles' father Louis of Orléans was killed at the orders of the Duke of Burgundy in 1407...

 to gain power in France. The Bastille was strategically vital during the period, both because of its role as a royal fortress and safe-haven inside the capital and because it controlled a critical route in and out of Paris. In 1418, for example, the future Charles VII
Charles VII of France
Charles VII , called the Victorious or the Well-Served , was King of France from 1422 to his death, though he was initially opposed by Henry VI of England, whose Regent, the Duke of Bedford, ruled much of France including the capital, Paris...

 took refuge in the Bastille during the Burgundian-led "Massacre of the Armagnacs" in Paris, before successfully fleeing the city through the Porte Saint-Antoine.
The Bastille was occasionally used to hold prisoners, including its creator, Hugues Aubriot, who was the first person to be imprisoned there, and in 1417 in addition to being a fortress, it formally became a state prison.

Despite the improved Parisian defences, Henry V of England
Henry V of England
Henry V was King of England from 1413 until his death at the age of 35 in 1422. He was the second monarch belonging to the House of Lancaster....

 successfully captured Paris in 1420 and the Bastille was seized and garrisoned by the English for the next sixteen years. Henry V appointed Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter
Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter
Thomas Beaufort, 1st Duke of Exeter, KG was an English military commander during the Hundred Years' War, and briefly Chancellor of England. He was the third of four children; the son of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and his mistress Katherine Swynford...

, as the new captain of the Bastille. The English made more use of the Bastille as a prison, although in 1430 there was a minor rebellion in the fortress, after some prisoners overpowered a sleeping guard and attempted to seize control of the fortress; this incident includes the first reference to a dedicated gaoler at the Bastille.

Paris was finally recaptured by Charles VII of France
Charles VII of France
Charles VII , called the Victorious or the Well-Served , was King of France from 1422 to his death, though he was initially opposed by Henry VI of England, whose Regent, the Duke of Bedford, ruled much of France including the capital, Paris...

 in 1436. When the French king re-entered the city, his enemies in Paris fortified themselves in the Bastille; after a siege, they eventually ran out of food, surrendered and were allowed to leave the city after the payment of a ransom. The castle remained a key Parisian fortress, but was successfully seized by the Burgundians in 1464, when they convinced royal troops to surrender it to their faction: once taken, this allowed their faction to make a surprise attack into Paris, almost resulting in the capture of the king.

The Bastille was being used to hold prisoners once again by the reign of Louis XI
Louis XI of France
Louis XI , called the Prudent , was the King of France from 1461 to 1483. He was the son of Charles VII of France and Mary of Anjou, a member of the House of Valois....

, who began to use it extensively as a state prison. An early escapee from the Bastille during this period was Antoine de Chabannes, Count of Dammartin and a member of the League of the Public Weal
League of the Public Weal
The League of the Public Weal was an alliance of feudal nobles organized in 1465 in defiance of the centralized authority of King Louis XI of France...

, who was imprisoned there by Louis and escaped by boat in 1465. The captains of the Bastille during this period were primarily officers and royal functionaries; Philippe de Melun was the first captain to receive a salary in 1462, being awarded 1,200 livres a year. Despite being a state prison, the Bastille retained the other traditional functions of a royal castle, and was used to accommodate visiting dignitaries, hosting some lavish entertainments given by Louis XI and Francis I
Francis I of France
Francis I was King of France from 1515 until his death. During his reign, huge cultural changes took place in France and he has been called France's original Renaissance monarch...

.

16th century

During the 16th century the area around the Bastille continued to develop. Early modern Paris continued to grow in size, and by the end of the century it had around 250,000 inhabitants and was one of the most populated cities in Europe, though largely remaining contained within its old city walls – open countryside still lay beyond the Bastille. The Arsenal, a large military-industrial complex tasked with the production of cannons and other weapons for the royal armies, was established to the south of the Bastille by Francis I
Francis I of France
Francis I was King of France from 1515 until his death. During his reign, huge cultural changes took place in France and he has been called France's original Renaissance monarch...

, and substantially expanded under Charles IX
Charles IX of France
Charles IX was King of France, ruling from 1560 until his death. His reign was dominated by the Wars of Religion. He is best known as king at the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.-Childhood:...

. An arms depot was later built above the Porte Saint-Antoine, all making the Bastille part of a major military centre.

During the 1550s, Henry II
Henry II of France
Henry II was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559.-Early years:Henry was born in the royal Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, the son of Francis I and Claude, Duchess of Brittany .His father was captured at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 by his sworn enemy,...

 became concerned about the threat of an English or Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 attack on Paris and the defences of the Bastille was strengthened in response. The southern gateway into the Bastille became the principle entrance to the castle in 1553, the other three gateways being closed up. A bastion
Bastion
A bastion, or a bulwark, is a structure projecting outward from the main enclosure of a fortification, situated in both corners of a straight wall , facilitating active defence against assaulting troops...

, a large earthwork projecting eastwards from the Bastille, was built to provide additional protective fire
Suppressive fire
In military science, suppressive fire is a fire that degrades the performance of a target below the level needed to fulfill its mission. Suppression is usually only effective for the duration of the fire. Suppressive fire is not always a direct form of fire towards targets; it can be an effective...

 for the Bastille and the Arsenal; the bastion was reached from the fortress across a stone abutment
Abutment
An abutment is, generally, the point where two structures or objects meet. This word comes from the verb abut, which means adjoin or having common boundary. An abutment is an engineering term that describes a structure located at the ends of a bridge, where the bridge slab adjoins the approaching...

 using a connecting drawbridge that was installed in the Bastille's Comté tower. In 1573 the Porte Saint-Antoine was also altered – the drawbridges were replaced with a fixed bridge, and the medieval gatehouse was replaced with a triumphal arch
Triumphal arch
A triumphal arch is a monumental structure in the shape of an archway with one or more arched passageways, often designed to span a road. In its simplest form a triumphal arch consists of two massive piers connected by an arch, crowned with a flat entablature or attic on which a statue might be...

.
The Bastille was involved in the numerous wars of religion
French Wars of Religion
The French Wars of Religion is the name given to a period of civil infighting and military operations, primarily fought between French Catholics and Protestants . The conflict involved the factional disputes between the aristocratic houses of France, such as the House of Bourbon and House of Guise...

, fought between Protestant and Catholic factions with support from foreign allies during the second half of the 16th century. Religious and political tensions in Paris initially exploded in the Day of the Barricades
Day of the Barricades
In the French Wars of Religion, the Day of the Barricades , 12 May 1588, was an apparently spontaneous public uprising in staunchly Catholic Paris against the moderate, hesitant, temporalizing policies of Henry III...

 on 12 May 1588, when hard-line Catholics rose up in revolt against the relatively moderate Henry III
Henry III of France
Henry III was King of France from 1574 to 1589. As Henry of Valois, he was the first elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with the dual titles of King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1573 to 1575.-Childhood:Henry was born at the Royal Château de Fontainebleau,...

. After a day's fighting had occurred across the capital, Henry III fled and the Bastille surrendered to Henry
Henry I, Duke of Guise
Henry I, Prince of Joinville, Duke of Guise, Count of Eu , sometimes called Le Balafré, "the scarred", was the eldest son of Francis, Duke of Guise, and Anna d'Este...

, the Duke of Guise and leader of the Catholic League
Catholic League (French)
The Catholic League of France, sometimes referred to by contemporary Roman Catholics as the Holy League, a major player in the French Wars of Religion, was formed by Duke Henry of Guise in 1576...

, who appointed Bussy-Leclerc as his new captain. Henry III responded by having the Duke and his brother murdered later that year, whereupon Bussy-Leclerc used the Bastille as a base to mount a raid on the Parlement de Paris, arresting the president and other magistrates, whom he suspected of having royalist sympathies, and detaining them in the Bastille. They were not released until the intervention of Charles, the Duke of Mayenne
Duke of Mayenne
Duke of Mayenne is a title created for a cadet branch of the House of Guise. It subsequently passed by marriage to the Gonzaga in 1621. They sold it to Cardinal Mazarin in 1654; he bestowed it on his niece, Hortense Mancini in 1661...

, and the payment of substantial ransoms. Bussy-Leclerc remained in control of the Bastille until December 1592, when, following further political instability, he was forced to surrender the castle to Charles and flee the city.

It took Henry IV
Henry IV of France
Henry IV , Henri-Quatre, was King of France from 1589 to 1610 and King of Navarre from 1572 to 1610. He was the first monarch of the Bourbon branch of the Capetian dynasty in France....

 several years to successfully retake Paris. By the time he was eventually successful in 1594, the area around the Bastille formed the main stronghold for the Catholic League and their foreign allies, including Spanish and Flemish troops. The Bastille itself was controlled by a League captain called du Bourg. Henry entered Paris early on the morning of 23 March through the Porte-Neuve rather than the Saint-Antoine and seized the capital, including the Arsenal complex that neighboured the Bastille. The Bastille was now an isolated League stronghold, with the remaining members of the League and their allies clustering around it for safety. After several days of tension, an agreement was finally reached for this rump element to leave safely, and on 27 March du Bourg surrendered the Bastille and left the city himself.

Early 17th century

The Bastille continued to be used as a prison and a royal fortress under both Henry IV and his son, Louis XIII
Louis XIII of France
Louis XIII was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1610 to 1643.Louis was only eight years old when he succeeded his father. His mother, Marie de Medici, acted as regent during Louis' minority...

. When Henry clamped down on a Spanish-backed plot amongst the senior French nobility in 1602, for example, he detained the ringleader Charles Gontaut, the Duke of Biron
Charles de Gontaut, duc de Biron
Charles de Gontaut, duc de Biron was a French soldier.-Biography:He was the son of Armand de Gontaut, baron de Biron, under whose command he fought for the royal party against the Catholic League in the later stages of the Wars of Religion in France. His efforts won him the name “Thunderbolt of...

, in the Bastille, and had him executed in the courtyard. Louis's chief minister, Cardinal Richelieu, is credited with beginning the modern transformation of the Bastille into a more formal organ of the French state, further increasing its structured use as a state prison. Richelieu broke with Henry IV's tradition of the Bastille's captain being a member of the French aristocracy, typically a Marshal of France such as François de Bassompierre
François de Bassompierre
François de Bassompierre was a French courtier.The son of Christophe de Bassompierre , he was born at the castle of Haroué in Lorraine...

, Charles d'Albert or Nicolas de L'Hôpital, and instead appointed Père Joseph
François Leclerc du Tremblay
François Leclerc du Tremblay , also known as Père Joseph, was a French Capuchin friar, confidant and agent of Cardinal Richelieu...

's brother to run the facility. The first surviving documentary records of prisoners at the Bastille also date from this period.

In 1648 the Fronde insurrection broke out in Paris in 1648, prompted by high taxes, increased food prices and disease. The Parlement of Paris
Parlement
Parlements were regional legislative bodies in Ancien Régime France.The political institutions of the Parlement in Ancien Régime France developed out of the previous council of the king, the Conseil du roi or curia regis, and consequently had ancient and customary rights of consultation and...

, the Regency government of Anne of Austria
Anne of Austria
Anne of Austria was Queen consort of France and Navarre, regent for her son, Louis XIV of France, and a Spanish Infanta by birth...

 and rebellious noble factions fought for several years to take control of the city and wider power. On 26 August, during the period known as the First Fronde, Anne ordered the arrest of some of the leaders of the Parlement of Paris; violence flared as a result, and the 27 August became known as another Day of the Barricades
Day of the Barricades
In the French Wars of Religion, the Day of the Barricades , 12 May 1588, was an apparently spontaneous public uprising in staunchly Catholic Paris against the moderate, hesitant, temporalizing policies of Henry III...

. The governor of the Bastille loaded and readied his guns to fire on the Hotel de Ville, controlled by the parliament, although the decision was eventually taken not to shoot. Barricades were erected across the city and the royal government fled the city in September, leaving a garrison of 22 men behind in the Bastille. On 11 January 1649, the Fronde decided to take the Bastille, giving the task to Elbeuf, one of their leaders. Elbeuf's attack required only a token effort: five or six shots were fired at the Bastille, before it promptly surrendered on the 13 January. Pierre Broussel
Pierre Broussel
Pierre Broussel was a councillor in the Parlement of Paris under Louis XIII and Louis XIV, and was eventually its president. He was a popular politician, in part due to his opposition to tax plans proposed by Cardinal Mazarin and his support for other legal reforms...

, one of the Frondeur leaders, appointed his son as the governor and the Fronde retained it even after the ceasefire that March.
During the Second Fronde, between 1650 to 1653, Louis, the Prince of Condé, controlled much of Paris alongside the Parlement, while Broussel, through his son, continued to control the Bastille. In July 1652, the battle of the Faubourg St Antoine
Battle of the Faubourg St Antoine
The battle of the Faubourg St Antoine occurred on 2 July 1652 during the Fronde rebellion in France.-Details:During the period of the Second Fronde, between 1650 to 1653, Louis, the Prince of Condé, controlled much of Paris, having allied himself with the Parlement of Paris, which was in open...

 took place just outside the Bastille. Condé had sallied out of Paris to prevent the advance of the royalist forces under the command of Turenne
Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne
Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne,often called simply Turenne was the most illustrious member of the La Tour d'Auvergne family. He achieved military fame and became a Marshal of France...

. Condé's forces became trapped against the city walls and the Porte St Antoine, which the Parlement refused to open; he was coming under increasingly heavy fire from the Royalist artillery and the situation looked bleak. In a famous incident, La Grande Mademoiselle, the daughter of Gaston
Gaston, Duke of Orléans
Gaston of France, , also known as Gaston d'Orléans, was the third son of King Henry IV of France and his wife Marie de Medici. As a son of the king, he was born a Fils de France. He later acquired the title Duke of Orléans, by which he was generally known during his adulthood...

, the Duke of Orléans, convinced her father to issue an order for the Parisian forces to act, before she then entered the Bastille and personally ensured that the commander turned the fortress's cannon on Turenne's army, causing significant casualties and enabling Condé's army's safe withdrawal. Later in 1652, Condé was finally forced to surrender Paris to the royalist forces in October, effectively bringing the Fronde to an end: the Bastille returned to royal control.

Reign of Louis XIV and the Regency (1661–1723)

The area around the Bastille was transformed in the reign of Louis XIV. Paris's growing population reached 400,000 during the period, causing the city to spill out past the Bastille and the old city into the arable farmland beyond, forming more thinly populated "faubourg
Faubourg
Faubourg is an ancient French term approximating "suburb" . The earliest form is Forsbourg, derived from Latin foris, 'out of', and Vulgar Latin burgum, 'town' or 'fortress'...

s", or suburbs. Influenced by the events of the Fronde, Louis XIV rebuilt the area around the Bastille, erecting a new archway at the Porte Saint-Antoine in 1660, and then ten years later pulling down the city walls and their supporting fortifications to replace them with an avenue of trees, later called Louis XIV's boulevard, which passed around the Bastille. The Bastille's bastion survived the redevelopment, becoming a garden for the use of the prisoners.

Louis XIV made extensive use of the Bastille as a prison, with 2,320 individuals being detained there during his reign, approximately 43 a year. Louis used the Bastille to detain not just suspected rebels or plotters, but also those who had simply irritated him in some way, including those who differed with him on matters of religion. The typical offences that inmates were accused of were espionage, counterfeiting and embezzlement from the state; a number of financial officials were detained in this way under Louis, most famously including Nicolas Fouquet
Nicolas Fouquet
Nicolas Fouquet, marquis de Belle-Île, vicomte de Melun et Vaux was the Superintendent of Finances in France from 1653 until 1661 under King Louis XIV...

, his supporters Henry de Guénegaud
Henry de Guénegaud
Henri du Plessis-Guénégaud, Lord of the Plessis-Belleville, Marquis de La Garnache was a French scholar who was Secretary of State of the royal household, and Naval Minister.-Family:...

 and Jeannin; Lorenzo de Tonti
Lorenzo de Tonti
Lorenzo de Tonti was a governor of Gaeta, Italy and a Neapolitan banker. He invented the tontine, a form of life insurance.Around 1650, he and his wife, Isabelle di Lietto, gave birth to their first son, the future explorer Henri de Tonti...

. In 1685 Louis revoked the Edict of Nantes
Edict of Fontainebleau
The Edict of Fontainebleau was an edict issued by Louis XIV of France, also known as the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The Edict of Nantes of 1598, had granted the Huguenots the right to practice their religion without persecution from the state...

, which had previously granted various rights to French Protestants; the subsequent royal crack-down was driven by the king's strongly anti-Protestant views. The Bastille was used to investigate and break up active Protestant networks by imprisoning and questioning the more recalcitrant members of the community, in particular upper-class Calvinists, and some 254 Protestants were imprisoned in the Bastille during Louis's reign.

By Louis's reign, Bastille prisoners were detained using a "lettre de cachet
Lettre de cachet
Lettres de cachet were letters signed by the king of France, countersigned by one of his ministers, and closed with the royal seal, or cachet...

", "a letter under royal seal", issued by the king and countersigned by a minister, ordering a named person to be detained. Louis, closely involved in this aspect of government, personally decided who should be imprisoned at the Bastille. The arrest itself involved an element of ceremony: the individual would be tapped on the shoulder with a white baton and formally detained in the name of the king. Detention in the Bastille was typically ordered for an indefinite period and there was considerable secrecy over who had been detained and why: the legend of the "Man in the Iron Mask
Man in the Iron Mask
The Man in the Iron Mask is a name given to a prisoner arrested as Eustache Dauger in 1669 or 1670, and held in a number of jails, including the Bastille and the Fortress of Pignerol . He was held in the custody of the same jailer, Bénigne Dauvergne de Saint-Mars, for a period of 34 years...

", a mysterious prisoner who finally died in 1703, often symbolises this period of the Bastille. Although in practice many were held at the Bastille as a form of punishment, legally a prisoner in the Bastille was only being detained for preventative or investigative reasons: the prison was not officially supposed to be a punitive measure in its own right. The average length of imprisonment for someone held in the Bastille under Louis XIV was approximately three years.
Under Louis, only between 20 to 50 prisoners were usually held at the Bastille at any one time, although as many as 111 were held for a short period in 1703. These prisoners were mainly from the upper classes and those who could afford to pay for additional luxuries lived in good conditions, wearing their own clothes, living in rooms decorated with tapestries and carpets or taking exercise around the castle garden and along the walls. By the late 17th century, there was a rather disorganised library for the use of inmates in the Bastille, although its origins remain unclear.

Louis reformed the administrative structure of the Bastille, creating the post of governor, although this post was still often referred to as the captain-governor. During Louis's reign the policing of marginal groups in Paris was greatly increased: the wider criminal justice system was reformed, controls over printing and publishing extended, new criminal codes were issued and the post of the Parisian lieutenant generale of police was created in 1667, all of which would enable the Bastille's later role in support of the Parisian police during the 18th century. By 1711, a 60 strong French military garrison had been established at the Bastille. The Bastille continued to be an expensive institution to run, particularly when the prison was full, such as during 1691 when the prison numbers were inflated by the campaign against French Protestants and the annual cost of running the Bastille rose to 232,818 livres.

Between the death of Louis in 1715 and 1723, power transferred to the Régence
Régence
The Régence is the period in French history between 1715 and 1723, when King Louis XV was a minor and the land was governed by a Regent, Philippe d'Orléans, the nephew of Louis XIV of France....

; the regent, Philippe d'Orléans
Philippe II, Duke of Orléans
Philippe d'Orléans was a member of the royal family of France and served as Regent of the Kingdom from 1715 to 1723. Born at his father's palace at Saint-Cloud, he was known from birth under the title of Duke of Chartres...

, maintained the prison but the absolutist rigour of Louis XIV's system began to weaken somewhat. Although Protestants ceased to be kept in the Bastille, the political uncertainties and plots of the period kept the prison busy and 1,459 were imprisoned there under the Regency, an average of around 182 a year. During the Cellamare Conspiracy
Cellamare Conspiracy
The Cellamare Conspiracy of 1718 was a conspiracy against the then Regent of France, Philippe d'Orléans . "Created" in Spain, it was the brainchild of Antonio del Giudice, Prince of Cellamare.-Background and Plot:...

, the alleged enemies of the Regency were imprisoned in the Bastille, including Marguerite De Launay. While in the Bastille, de Launay fell in love with a fellow prisoner, the Chevalier de Ménil; she also infamously received an invitation of marriage from the Chevalier de Maisonrouge, the governor's deputy, who had fallen in love with her himself.

Architecture and organisation

By the late 18th century, the Bastille had come to separate the more aristocratic quarter of Le Marais
Le Marais
Le Marais is a historic district in Paris, France. Long the aristocratic district of Paris, it hosts many outstanding buildings of historic and architectural importance...

 in the old city from the working class district of the faubourg Saint-Antoine that lay beyond the Louis XIV boulevard. The Marais was a fashionable area, frequented by foreign visitors and tourists, but very few went beyond the Bastille into the faubourg. The faubourg was characterised by its built-up, densely populated areas, particularly in the north, and its numerous workshops producing soft furnishings. Paris as a whole had continued to grow, reaching slightly less than 800,000 inhabitants by the reign of Louis XVI, and many of the residents around the faubourg had migrated to Paris from the countryside relatively recently. The Bastille had its own street address, being officially known as No. 232, rue Saint-Antoine.

Structurally, the late-18th century Bastille was not greatly changed from its 14th-century predecessor. The eight stone towers had gradually acquired individual names: running from the north-east side of the external gate, these were La Chapelle, Trésor, Comté, Bazinière, Bertaudière, Liberté, Puits and Coin. La Chapelle contained the Bastille's chapel, decorated with a painting of Saint Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

 in chains. Trésor took its name from the reign of Henry IV, when it had contained the royal treasury. The origins of the name of Comté tower's are unclear; one theory is that the name refers to the County of Paris. Bazinière as named after Bertrand de La Bazinière, a royal treasurer who was imprisoned there in 1663. Bertaudière was named after a medieval mason who died building the structure in the 14th century. Liberté tower took its name either from a protest in 1380, when Parisians shouted the phrase outside the castle, or because it was used to house prisoners who had more freedom to walk around the castle than the typical prisoner. Puits tower contained the castle well, while Coin formed the corner of the Rue Saint-Antoine.
The main castle courtyard, accessed through the southern gateway, was 120 feet long by 72 feet wide (37 m by 22 m), and was divided from the smaller northern yard by a three storey office wing, built around 1716 and then renovated in 1761 in a modern, 18th-century style. The office wing held the council room, used for interrogating prisoners, the Bastille's library and servants' quarters. The upper stories included rooms for the senior Bastille staff, and chambers for distinguished prisoners. An elevated building on one side of the courtyard held the Basille's archives. A clock was installed by Antoine de Sartine
Antoine de Sartine
Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de Sartine, comte d'Alby was a French statesman who served as Lieutenant General of Police of Paris during the reign of Louis XV and as Secretary of State for the Navy under King Louis XVI.-Origins:Antoine de Sartine was born in Barcelona in 1729, the son of...

, the lieutenant general of police
Prefecture of Police
The Prefecture of Police , headed by the Prefect of Police , is an agency of the Government of France which provides the police force for the city of Paris and the surrounding three suburban départements of Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, and Val-de-Marne...

 between 1759 and 1774, on the side of the office wing, depicting two chained prisoners.

New kitchens and baths were built just outside the main gate to the Bastille in 1786. The ditch around the Bastille, now largely dry, supported a 36 foot (11 m) high stone wall with a wooden walkway for the use of the guards, known as "la ronde", or the round. An outer court had grown up around the south-west side of the Bastille, adjacent to the Arsenal. This was open to the public and lined with small shops rented out by the governor for almost 10,000 livres a year, complete with a lodge for the Bastille gatekeeper; it was illuminated at night to light the adjacent street.

The Bastille was run by the governor, sometimes called the captain-governor, who lived in a 17th century house alongside the fortress. The governor was supported by various officers, in particular his deputy, the lieutenant de roi, or lieutenant of the king, who was responsible for general security and the protection of state secrets; the major, responsible for managing the Bastille's financial affairs and the police archives; and the capitaine des portes, who ran the entrance to the Bastille. Four warders divided up the eight towers between them. From an administrative perspective, the prison was generally well run during the period. These staff were supported by an official surgeon, a chaplain and could, on occasion, call upon the services of a local midwife for dealing with pregnant prisoners. A small garrison of "invalides" was appointed in 1749 to guard the interior and exterior of the fortress; these were retired soldiers and were regarded locally, as Simon Schama describes, as "amiable layabouts" rather than professional soldiers.

Use of the prison

The role of the Bastille as a prison changed considerably during the reigns of Louis XV and XVI. One trend was a decline in the number of prisoners sent to the Bastille, with only 1,194 imprisoned there during the reign of Louis XV and only 306 under Louis XVI up until the Revolution, annual averages of around 23 and 20 respectively. A second trend was a slow shift away from the Bastille's 17th-century role of detaining primarily upper-class prisoners, towards a situation in which the Bastille was essentially a location for imprisoning socially undesirable individuals of all backgrounds – including aristocrats breaking social conventions, criminals, pornographers, thugs – and was used to support police operations, particularly those involving censorship, across Paris. Despite these changes, the Bastille remained a state prison, subject to special authorities, answering to the monarch of the day and surrounded by a considerable and threatening reputation.

Under Louis XV, around 250 Catholic convulsionnaires
Convulsionnaires of Saint-Médard
Convulsionnaires of Saint-Médard is a term used to describe a group of 18th-century French religious pilgrims who exhibited convulsions and later constituted a religious sect and a political movement. This practice originated at the tomb of François de Pâris, a Jansenist deacon who was buried at...

, often called Jansenists
Jansenism
Jansenism was a Christian theological movement, primarily in France, that emphasized original sin, human depravity, the necessity of divine grace, and predestination. The movement originated from the posthumously published work of the Dutch theologian Cornelius Otto Jansen, who died in 1638...

, were detained in the Bastille for their religious beliefs. Many of these prisoners were women and came from a wider range of social backgrounds than the upper-class Calvinists detained under Louis XIV; historian Monique Cottret argues that the decline of the Bastille's social "mystique" originates from this phase of detentions. By Louis XVI, the background of those entering the Bastille and the type of offences they were detained over had changed markedly. Between 1774 and 1789, the detentions included 54 people accused of robbery; 31 of involvement in the 1775 Famine Revolt; 11 detained for assault; 62 illegal editors, printers and writers – but relatively few detained over the grander affairs of state.

Many prisoners still continued to come from the upper classes, particularly in those cases termed "déordres des familles", or disorders of the family. These cases typically involving members of the aristocracy who had, as historian Richard Andrews notes, "rejected parental authority, disgraced the family reputation, manifested mental derangement, squandered capital or violated professional codes." Their families – often their parents, but sometimes husbands and wives taking action against their spouses – could apply for individuals to be detained at one of the royal prisons, resulting in an average imprisonment of between six months and four years. Such a detention could be preferable to facing a scandal or a public trial over their misdemeanours, and the secrecy that surrounded detention at the Bastille allowed personal and family reputations to be quietly protected. The Bastille was considered one of the best prisons for an upper-class prisoner to be detained at, because of the standard of the facilities for the wealthy. In the aftermath of the notorious "Affair of the Diamond Necklace
Affair of the diamond necklace
The Affair of the Diamond Necklace was a mysterious incident in the 1780s at the court of Louis XVI of France involving his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette. The reputation of the Queen, which was already tarnished by gossip, was ruined by the implication that she had participated in a crime to defraud...

" of 1786, involving the Queen and accusations of fraud, all the eleven suspects were held in the Bastille, significantly increasing the notoriety surrounding the institution.
Increasingly, however, the Bastille became part of the system of wider policing in Paris. Although appointed by the king, the governor reported to the lieutenant general of police: the first of these, Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie
Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie
Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie is considered to be the founder of the first modern police force.-Early career:Born in 1625 in Limoges, France to a poor family, Gabriel Nicolas made a wealthy marriage in 1645 and took the name of Reynie, a minor lordship with an annual income of 200 pounds. He was a...

, made only occasional visits to the Bastille, but his successor, Marquis d'Argenson, and subsequent officers used the facility extensively and took a close interest in inspections of the prison. The lieutenant general reported in turn to the secretary of the "Maison du Roi
Maison du Roi
The Maison du Roi was the name of the military, domestic and religious entourage around the royal family in France during the Ancien Régime and Bourbon Restoration; the exact composition and duties of its various divisions changed constantly over the Early Modern period...

", largely responsible for order in the capital; in practice together they controlled the issuing of the "lettres" in the king's name. The Bastille was unusual amongst Parisian prisons in that it acted on behalf of the king – prisoners could therefore be imprisoned secretly, for longer, and without normal judicial processes being applied, making it a useful facility for the police authorities. The Bastille was a preferred location for holding prisoners who needed extensive questioning or where a case required the analysis of extensive documents. The Bastille was also used to store the Parisian police archives; public order equipment such as chains and flags; and illegal goods, seized by order of the crown using a version of the "lettre de cachet", such as banned books and illicit printing presses.

Throughout this period, but particularly in the middle of the 18th century, the Bastille was used by the police to suppress the trade in illegal and seditious books in France. In the 1750s, 40% of those sent to the Bastille were arrested for their role in manufacturing or dealing in banned material; in the 1760s, the equivalent figure was 35%. Seditious writers were also often held in the Bastille, although many of the more famous writers held in the Bastille during the period were in fact imprisoned for more anti-social, rather than strictly political, offences. In particular, many of those writers detained under Louis XVI were imprisoned for their role in producing illegal pornography, rather than political critiques of the regime. The writer Laurent Angliviel de la Beaumelle, the philosopher André Morellet
André Morellet
André Morellet was a French economist and writer. He was one of the last of the philosophes, and in this character he figures in many memoirs, such as those of Madame de Rémusat....

 and the historian Jean-François Marmontel
Jean-François Marmontel
Jean-François Marmontel was a French historian and writer, a member of the Encyclopediste movement.-Biography:He was born of poor parents at Bort, Limousin...

, for example, were detained not for their more obviously political writings, but for libellous remarks or for personal insults against leading members of Parisian society.

Prison regime

Contrary to its later image, conditions for prisoners in the Bastille by the mid-18th century were in fact relatively benign, particularly by the standards of other prisons of the time. The typical prisoner was held in one of the octagonal rooms in the mid-levels of the towers. The calottes, the rooms just under the roof that formed the upper storey of the Bastille, were considered the least pleasant quarters, being more exposed to the elements and usually either too hot or too cold for comfort. The cachots, the underground dungeons, had not been used for many years, except for holding recaptured escaped prisoners. Prisoners' rooms each had a stove or a fireplace, basic furniture, curtains and in most cases a window; a typical criticism of the rooms was that they were shabby and basic rather than uncomfortable. Like the calottes, the main courtyard, used for exercise, was often criticised by prisoners as being unpleasant at the height of summer or winter, although the garden in the bastion and the castle walls were also used for recreation.

The governor received money from the Crown to support the prisoners, with the amount varying on rank: the governor received 19 livres a day for each political prisoner, with counseiller-grade nobles receiving 15 livres and, at the other end of the scale, commoners only being granted three livres a day. Even for the commoners, this sum was around twice the daily wage of a labourer and provided for an adequate diet, while the upper classes ate very well indeed: even critics of the Bastille recounted many excellent meals, often taken with the governor himself. Prisoners who were being punished for misbehaviour, however, could have their diet restricted as a punishment. The medical treatment provided by the Bastille for prisoners was excellent by the standards of the 18th century; the prison also contained a number of inmates suffering from mental illness
Mental illness
A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological or behavioral pattern generally associated with subjective distress or disability that occurs in an individual, and which is not a part of normal development or culture. Such a disorder may consist of a combination of affective, behavioural,...

es and took, by the standards of the day, a very progressive attitude to their care.
Although potentially dangerous objects and money were confiscated and stored when a prisoner first entered the Bastille, most wealthy prisoners continued to bring in additional luxuries, including pet dogs or cats to control the local vermin. The Marquis de Sade, for example, arrived with an elaborate wardrobe, paintings, tapestries, a selection of perfume, and a collection of 133 books. Card games and billiards were played amongst the prisoners, and alcohol and tobacco were permitted. Servants could sometimes accompany their masters into the Bastille, as in the cases of the 1746 detention of the family of Lord Morton
James Douglas, 14th Earl of Morton
James Douglas, 14th Earl of Morton KT FRS was a Scottish astronomer and representative peer who was President of the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh from its foundation in 1737 until his death...

 and their entire household as British spies: the family's domestic life continued on inside the prison relatively normally. The prisoners' library had grown during the 18th century, mainly through ad hoc purchases and various confiscations by the Crown, until by 1787 it included 389 volumes.

The length of time that a typical prisoner was kept at the Bastille continued to decline, and by Louis XVI the average length of detention was only two months. Prisoners would still be expected to sign a document on their release, promising not to talk about the Bastille or their time within it, but by the 1780s this agreement was not infrequently broken. Prisoners leaving the Bastille could be granted pensions on their release by the Crown, either as a form of compensation or as a way of ensuring future good behaviour – Voltaire was granted 1,200 livres a year, for example, while Latude received an annual pension of 400 livres.

Criticism and reform

During the 18th century, the Bastille was extensively critiqued by French writers as a symbol of ministerial despotism; this criticism would ultimately result in reforms and plans for its abolition. The first major criticism emerged from Constantin de Renneville, who had been imprisoned in the Bastille for 11 years and published his accounts of the experience in 1715 in his book L'Inquisition françois. Renneville presented a dramatic account of his detention, explaining that despite being innocent he had been abused and left to rot in one of the Bastille's cachot dungeons, kept enchained next to a corpse. More criticism followed in 1719 when the Abbé Jean de Bucquoy, who had escaped from the Bastille ten years previously, published an account of his adventures from the safety of Hanover
Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

; he gave a similar account to Renneville's and termed the Bastille the "hell of the living". Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

 added to the notorious reputation of the Bastille when he wrote about the case of the "Man in the Iron Mask
Man in the Iron Mask
The Man in the Iron Mask is a name given to a prisoner arrested as Eustache Dauger in 1669 or 1670, and held in a number of jails, including the Bastille and the Fortress of Pignerol . He was held in the custody of the same jailer, Bénigne Dauvergne de Saint-Mars, for a period of 34 years...

" in 1751, and later criticised the way he himself was treated while detained in the Bastille, labelling the fortress a "palace of revenge".

In the 1780s, prison reform became a popular topic for French writers and the Bastille was increasingly critiqued as a symbol of arbitrary despotism
Despotism
Despotism is a form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power. That entity may be an individual, as in an autocracy, or it may be a group, as in an oligarchy...

. Two authors were particularly influential during this period. The first was Simon-Nicholas Linguet
Simon-Nicholas Henri Linguet
Simon-Nicholas Henri Linguet , French journalist and advocate, was born in Reims, where his father, the assistant principal in the Collège de Beauvais of Paris, had recently been exiled by lettre de cachet for engaging in the Jansenist controversy.He attended the College de Beauvais and won the...

, who was arrested and detained at the Bastille in 1780, after publishing a critique of Maréchal Duras
Emmanuel-Félicité de Durfort de Duras
Emmanuel-Félicité de Durfort, duc de Duras was a French politician, diplomat, peer, marshal and Freemason .-Life:...

. Upon his release, he published his Mémoires sur la Bastille in 1783, a damning critique of the institution. Linguet criticised the physical conditions in which he was kept, sometimes inaccurately, but went further in capturing in detail the more psychological effects of the prison regime upon the inmate. Linguet also encouraged Louis XVI to destroy the Bastille, publishing an engraving depicting the king announcing to the prisoners "may you be free and live!", a phrase borrowed from Voltaire.

Linguet's work was followed by another prominent autobiography, Henri Latude
Jean Henri Latude
Jean Henri Latude , often called Danry or Masers de Latude, was a French writer famous for his lengthy confinement in the Bastille, at Vincennes, and for his repeated escapes from those prisons.-Life:...

's Le despotisme dévoilé. Latude was a soldier who was imprisoned in the Bastille following a sequence of complex misadventures, including the sending of a letter bomb to Madame de Pompadour
Madame de Pompadour
Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour, also known as Madame de Pompadour was a member of the French court, and was the official chief mistress of Louis XV from 1745 to her death.-Biography:...

, the King's mistress. Latude became famous for managing to escape from the Bastille by means of climbing up the chimney of his cell and then descending the walls with a home-made rope ladder, before being recaptured afterwards in Amsterdam by French agents. Latude was released in 1777, but was rearrested following his publication of a book entitled Memoirs of Vengeance. Pamphlets and magazines publicised Latude's case until he was finally released again in 1784. Latude became a popular figure with the "Académie française
Académie française
L'Académie française , also called the French Academy, is the pre-eminent French learned body on matters pertaining to the French language. The Académie was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII. Suppressed in 1793 during the French Revolution,...

", or French Academy, and his autobiography, although inaccurate in places, did much to reinforce the public perception of the Bastille as a despotic institution.
Modern historians of this period, such as Hans-Jürgen Lüsebrink, Simon Schama and Monique Cottret, concur that the actual treatment of prisoners in Bastille was much better than the public impression left through these writings. Nonetheless, fuelled by the secrecy that still surrounded the Bastille, official as well as public concern about the prison and the system that supported it also began to mount, prompting reforms. As early as 1775, Louis XVI's minister Malesherbes
Guillaume-Chrétien de Lamoignon de Malesherbes
Guillaume-Chrétien de Lamoignon de Malesherbes , often referred to as Malesherbes or Lamoignon-Malesherbes, was a French statesman, minister, and afterwards counsel for the defence of Louis XVI.-Biography:...

 had authorised all prisoners to be given newspapers to read, and to be allowed to write and to correspond with their family and friends. In the 1780s Breteuil
Louis Auguste Le Tonnelier de Breteuil
Louis Charles Auguste le Tonnelier, baron de Breteuil, baron de Preuilly was a French aristocrat, diplomat, statesman and politician...

, the Secretary of State of the Maison du Roi
Secretary of State of the Maison du Roi
The Secretary of State of the Maison du Roi was the secretary of state in France during the "Ancien Régime" and Bourbon Restoration in charge of the Département de la Maison du Roi...

, began a substantial reform of the system of lettres de cachet that sent prisoners to the Bastille: lettres were now required to list the length of time a prisoner would be detained for, and the offence for which they were being held.

Meanwhile, in 1784, the architect Alexandre Brogniard proposed that the Bastille be demolished and converted into a circular, public space with colonnade
Colonnade
In classical architecture, a colonnade denotes a long sequence of columns joined by their entablature, often free-standing, or part of a building....

s. Director-General of Finance Jacques Necker
Jacques Necker
Jacques Necker was a French statesman of Swiss birth and finance minister of Louis XVI, a post he held in the lead-up to the French Revolution in 1789.-Early life:...

, having examined the costs of running the Bastille, amounting to well over 127,000 livres in 1774, for example, proposed closing the institution on the grounds of economy alone. Similarly, Puget, the Bastille's lieutenant de roi, submitted reports in 1788 suggesting that the authorities close the prison, demolish the fortress and sell the real estate off. In June 1789, the Académie royale d'architecture
Académie d'architecture
The Académie royale d'architecture was a French learned society founded on December 30, 1671 by Louis XIV, king of France under the impulsion of Jean-Baptiste Colbert...

 proposed a similar scheme to Brogniard's, in which the Bastille would be transformed into an open public area, with a tall column at the centre surrounded by fountains, dedicated to Louis XVI as the "restorer of public freedom". The number of prisoners held in the Bastille at any one time declined sharply towards the end of Louis's reign; the prison contained ten prisoners in September 1782 and, despite a mild increase at the beginning of 1788, by July 1789 only seven prisoners remained in custody. Before any official scheme to close the prison could be enacted, however, violent disturbances across Paris brought a more violent end to the Bastille.

Storming of the Bastille

By July 1789, Revolutionary
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 sentiment was rising in Paris. The Estates-General
Estates-General of 1789
The Estates-General of 1789 was the first meeting since 1614 of the French Estates-General, a general assembly representing the French estates of the realm: the nobility, the Church, and the common people...

 was convened in May and members of the Third Estate proclaimed the Tennis Court Oath
Tennis Court Oath
The Tennis Court Oath was a pivotal event during the first days of the French Revolution. The Oath was a pledge signed by 576 of the 577 members from the Third Estate who were locked out of a meeting of the Estates-General on 20 June 1789...

 in June, calling for the king to grant a written constitution. Violence between loyal royal forces, mutinous members of the royal Gardes Françaises
Gardes Françaises
The Gardes Françaises was one of the two non-ceremonial infantry regiments in the "Maison du Roi" of the French Army under the Ancien Régime. The other regiment was the Gardes Suisses, which made the Gardes Françaises the only one recruited from France.-History:The regiment was created in 1563 by...

 and local crowds broke out at Vendôme
Vendôme
Vendôme is a commune in the Centre region of France.-Administration:Vendôme is the capital of the arrondissement of Vendôme in the Loir-et-Cher department, of which it is a sub-prefecture. It has a tribunal of first instance.-Geography:...

 on 12 July, leading to widespread fighting and the withdrawal of royal forces from the centre of Paris. Revolutionary crowds began to arm themselves during the 13 July, looting royal stores, gunsmiths and armourers' shops for weapons and gunpowder.

The commander of the Bastille at the time was Bernard-René de Launay
Bernard-René de Launay
Bernard René Jourdan, marquis de Launay was the French governor of the Bastille, the son of a previous governor, and commander of its garrison when it was stormed on 14 July 1789 .-Early life:...

, a conscientious but minor military officer. Tensions surrounding the Bastille had been rising for several weeks. Only eight prisoners remained in the fortress, but one of these, the Marquis de Sade
Marquis de Sade
Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade was a French aristocrat, revolutionary politician, philosopher, and writer famous for his libertine sexuality and lifestyle...

, had stoked the link between the revolution and the Bastille, addressing the public from his walks on top of the towers and, once this was forbidden, shouting from the window of his cell. Sade began to claim that the authorities planned to massacre the prisoners in the castle, which resulted in the governor removing him to an alternative site in early July.

At de Launay's request, an additional force of 32 Swiss soldiers
Swiss Guard
Swiss Guards or Schweizergarde is the name given to the Swiss soldiers who have served as bodyguards, ceremonial guards, and palace guards at foreign European courts since the late 15th century. They have had a high reputation for discipline, as well as loyalty to their employers...

 had been assigned to the Bastille on the 7 July, adding to the existing 82 invalides pensioners who formed the regular force. De Launay had taken various precautions, raising the drawbridge in the Comté tower and destroying the stone abutment
Abutment
An abutment is, generally, the point where two structures or objects meet. This word comes from the verb abut, which means adjoin or having common boundary. An abutment is an engineering term that describes a structure located at the ends of a bridge, where the bridge slab adjoins the approaching...

 that linked the Bastille to its bastion to prevent anyone from gaining access from that side of the fortress. The shops in the entranceway to the Bastille had been closed and the gates locked. The Bastille was defended by 30 small artillery pieces, but nonetheless, by the 14 July de Launay was very concerned about the Bastille's situation. The Bastille, already hugely unpopular with the Revolutionary crowds, was now the only remaining royalist stronghold in central Paris, in addition to which he was protecting a recently arrived stock of 250 barrels of valuable gunpowder. To make matter worse, the Bastille had only two days supply of food and no source of water, making it impossible to withstand a long siege.
On the morning of the 14 July around 900 people formed outside the Bastille, primarily working class members of the nearby faubourg Saint-Antoine, but also including some mutinous soldiers and local traders. The crowd had gathered in an attempt to commandeer the gunpowder stocks known to be held in the Bastille, and at 10:00 am de Launay let in two of their leaders to negotiate with him. Just after midday, another negotiator was let in to discuss the situation, but no easy compromise could be reached: the Revolutionary representatives now wanted both the guns and the gunpowder in the Bastille to be handed over, but de Launay refused to do so unless he received authorisation from his leadership in Versailles
Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles , or simply Versailles, is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. In French it is the Château de Versailles....

. By this point it was clear that the governor lacked the experience or the skills to defuse the situation.

Just as negotiations were about to recommence at around 1:30 pm, chaos broke out as the impatient and angry crowd stormed the outer courtyard leading towards the Bastille, pushing towards the main entrance to the Bastille. Confused firing broke out in the confined space and chaotic fighting began in earnest between de Launay's forces and the Revolutionary crowd as the two sides exchanged fire. At around 3:30 pm, more mutinous royal forces arrived to reinforce the crowd, bringing with them trained infantry officers and several cannons. After discovering that their weapons were too light to damage the main walls of the fortress, the Revolutionary crowd now began to fire their cannons at the wooden gate of the Bastille. By now around 83 of the crowd had been killed and another 15 mortally wounded; only one of the invalides had been killed in return.

De Launay had limited options: if he allowed the Revolutionaries to destroy his main gate, he would end up having to turn the cannon directly inside the Bastille's courtyard onto the crowds, causing a huge loss of live and preventing any peaceful end to the episode. De Launay could not withstand a long siege, and he was dissuaded by his officers from committing mass suicide by detonating his supplies of powder. Instead, de Launay attempted to negotiate a surrender, threatening to blow up the Bastille if his demands were not met. In the midst of this attempt, the Bastille's drawbridge suddenly came down and the Revolutionary crowd stormed in. De Launay was dragged outside into the streets and killed by the crowd; some of the Invalides officers were killed by the revolutionaries as well as were two of their men. However the soldiers of the Swiss Salis-Samade Regiment, wearing grey working smocks, were initially mistaken for Bastille prisoners and left unharmed by the crowds until they were escorted away by French Guards and other regular soldiers amongst the attackers. The valuable powder and guns were seized and a search begun for the other prisoners in the Bastille.

Destruction

Within hours of its capture, the Bastille began to be used as a powerful symbol to give legitimacy to the Revolutionary movement in France. The faubourg Saint-Antoine's revolutionary reputation was firmly established by their storming of the Bastille and a formal list began to be drawn up of the "vainqueurs" who had taken part in the events in order to celebrate both the fallen and the survivors. Although the crowd had initially gone to the Bastille searching for gunpowder, historian Simon Schama observes how the captured prison "gave a shape and an image to all the vices against which the Revolution defined itself". Indeed, the more despotic and evil the Bastille was portrayed by the pro-Revolutionary press, the more necessary and justified the actions of the Revolution became. Consequently the late governor, de Launay, was rapidly vilified as a brutal despot. The fortress itself was described by the Revolutionary press as a "place of slavery and horror", containing "machines of death", "grim underground dungeons" and "disgusting caves" where prisoners were left to rot for up to 50 years.

As a result, in the days after the 14 July the fortress was searched for evidence of torture: old pieces of armour and bits of a printing press were taken out and presented as evidence of elaborate torture equipment. Latude returned to the Bastille, where he was given the rope ladder and equipment with which he had escaped from the prison many years before. The former prison warders escorted visitors around the Bastille in the weeks after its capture, giving colourful accounts of the events in the castle. Stories and pictures about the rescue of the fictional Count de Lorges – supposedly a mistreated prisoner of the Bastille incarcerated by Louis XV – and the similarly imaginary discovery of the skeleton of the "Man in the Iron Mask" in the dungeons, were widely circulated as fact across Paris. In the coming months, over 150 broadside
Broadside (printing)
A broadside is a large sheet of paper printed on one side only. Historically, broadsides were posters, announcing events or proclamations, or simply advertisements...

 publications used the storming of the Bastille as a theme, while the events formed the basis for a number of theatrical plays.

Despite their victory, however, the revolutionaries had only discovered seven prisoners in the Bastille, rather less than had been anticipated. Of these, only one – de Whyte de Malleville, an elderly and white-bearded man – closely resembled the public image of a Bastille prisoner: despite being mentally ill, he was paraded through the streets, where he waved happily to the crowds. Of the remaining six rescued prisoners, four were convicted forgers and quickly vanished into central Paris, followed by the Count de Solages who had originally been imprisoned on the request of his family for sexual misdemeanours; the final prisoner, Tavernier, also proved to be mentally ill and, along with Whyte, was in due course reincarcerated in the Charenton asylum
Charenton (asylum)
Charenton was a lunatic asylum, founded in 1645 by the Frères de la Charité in Charenton-Saint-Maurice, now Saint-Maurice, Val-de-Marne, France....

.

At first the Revolutionary movement was uncertain whether to destroy the prison, to reoccupy it as a fortress with members of the volunteer guard militia, or to preserve it intact as a permanent Revolutionary monument. The Revolutonary leader Mireabeau
Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau
Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau was a French revolutionary, as well as a writer, diplomat, freemason, journalist and French politician at the same time. He was a popular orator and statesman. During the French Revolution, he was a moderate, favoring a constitutional monarchy built on...

 eventually settled the matter by symbolically starting the destruction of the battlements himself, after which a panel of five experts were appointed by the Permanent Committee of the Hôtel de Ville to manage the demolition of the castle. One of these experts was Pierre-François Palloy
Pierre-François Palloy
Pierre-François Palloy , self styled as Patriote Palloy was an entrepreneurial building contractor remembered for the demolition of the Bastille.-Biography:...

, a bourgeois entrepreneur who claimed vanqueuer status for his role during the taking of the Bastille, and he rapidly assumed control over the entire process. Palloy's team worked quickly and by November most of the fortress had been destroyed.

The ruins of the Bastille rapidly became iconic across France. Palloy had an altar set up on the site in February 1790, formed out iron chains and restraints from the prison. Old bones, probably of 15th century soldiers, were discovered during the clearance work in April and, presented as the skeletons of former prisoners, were exhumed and ceremonially reburied in Saint-Paul's cemetery. In the summer, a huge ball was held by Palloy on the site for the National Guardsmen
National Guard (France)
The National Guard was the name given at the time of the French Revolution to the militias formed in each city, in imitation of the National Guard created in Paris. It was a military force separate from the regular army...

 visiting Paris for the 14 July celebrations. A memorabilia industry surrounding the fall of the Bastille was already flourishing and as the work on the demolition project finally dried up, Palloy started producing and selling memorabilia of the Bastille. Palloy's products, which he called "relics of freedom", celebrated the national unity that the events of July 1789 had generated across all classes of French citizen, and included a very wide range of items. Palloy also sent models of the Bastille, carved from the fortress's stones, as gifts to the French provinces at his own expense to spread the Revolutionary message. In 1793 a large Revolutionary fountain featuring a statue of Isis
Isis
Isis or in original more likely Aset is a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. She was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the matron of nature and magic...

 was built on the former site of the fortress, which became known as the Place de la Bastille
Place de la Bastille
The Place de la Bastille is a square in Paris, where the Bastille prison stood until the 'Storming of the Bastille' and its subsequent physical destruction between 14 July 1789 and 14 July 1790 during the French Revolution; no vestige of it remains....

.

19th–20th century political and cultural legacy

The Bastille remained a powerful and evocative symbol for French republicans throughout the 19th century. Napoleon Bonaparte overthrew the French First Republic
French First Republic
The French First Republic was founded on 22 September 1792, by the newly established National Convention. The First Republic lasted until the declaration of the First French Empire in 1804 under Napoleon I...

 that emerged from the Revolution in 1799, and subsequently attempted to marginalise the Bastille as a symbol. Napoleon was unhappy with the revolutionary connotations of the Place de la Bastille, and considered initially considered building his Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe
-The design:The astylar design is by Jean Chalgrin , in the Neoclassical version of ancient Roman architecture . Major academic sculptors of France are represented in the sculpture of the Arc de Triomphe: Jean-Pierre Cortot; François Rude; Antoine Étex; James Pradier and Philippe Joseph Henri Lemaire...

 on the site instead. This proved an unpopular option, and instead he planned the construction of a huge, bronze statue of an imperial elephant. The project was delayed, eventually indefinitely, and all that was constructed was a large plaster version
Elephant of the Bastille
The Elephant of the Bastille was a monument in Paris between 1813 and 1846. Originally conceived in 1808 by Napoleon, the statue was intended to be created out of bronze and placed in Place de la Bastille, but only a plaster full-scale model was built...

 of the bronze statue, which stood on the former site of the Bastille between 1814 and 1846, when the decaying structure was finally removed. After the restoration of the French Bourbon monarchy
Bourbon Restoration
The Bourbon Restoration is the name given to the period following the successive events of the French Revolution , the end of the First Republic , and then the forcible end of the First French Empire under Napoleon  – when a coalition of European powers restored by arms the monarchy to the...

 in 1815, the Bastille became an underground symbol for Republicans. The July Revolution
July Revolution
The French Revolution of 1830, also known as the July Revolution or in French, saw the overthrow of King Charles X of France, the French Bourbon monarch, and the ascent of his cousin Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans, who himself, after 18 precarious years on the throne, would in turn be overthrown...

 in 1830 used images such as the Bastille to legitimise their new regime and in 1833, the former site of the Bastille was used to build the July Column
July Column
The July Column is a monument to the Revolution of 1830. It stands in the center of the Place de la Bastille, in Paris, to commemorate the Trois Glorieuses, the "three glorious" days in July 1830 that saw the fall of Charles X of France and the commencement of the "July Monarchy" of...

 to commemorate the revolution. The short-lived Second Republic
French Second Republic
The French Second Republic was the republican government of France between the 1848 Revolution and the coup by Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte which initiated the Second Empire. It officially adopted the motto Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité...

 was symbolically declared in 1848 on the former Revolutionary site.

The storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789 had been celebrated annually since 1790, initially through quasi-religious rituals, and then later during the Revolution with grand, secular events including the burning of replica Bastilles. Under Napoleon the events became less Revolutionary, focusing instead on military parades and national unity in the face of foreign threats. During the 1870s, the 14 July celebrations became a rallying point for Republicans opposed to the early monarchist leadership of the Third Republic
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

; when the moderate Republican Jules Grévy
Jules Grévy
François Paul Jules Grévy was a President of the French Third Republic and one of the leaders of the Opportunist Republicans faction. Given that his predecessors were monarchists who tried without success to restore the French monarchy, Grévy is seen as the first real republican President of...

 became president in 1879, his new government turned the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille into a national holiday. The anniversary remained contentious, with hard-line Republicans continuing to use the occasion to protest against the new political order and right-wing conservatives protesting about the imposition of the holiday. The July Column itself remained contentious and Republican radicals unsuccessfully tried to blow it up in 1871.

Meanwhile, the legacy of the Bastille proved popular amongst French novelists. Alexandre Dumas, for example, used the Bastille and the legend of the "Man in the Iron Mask" extensively in his d'Artagnan Romances
D'Artagnan Romances
The d'Artagnan Romances are a set of three novels by Alexandre Dumas telling the story of the musketeer d'Artagnan from his humble beginnings in Gascony to his death as a marshal of France in the Siege of Maastricht in 1673....

; in these novels the Bastille is presented as both picturesque and tragic, a suitable setting for heroic action. By contrast, in many of Dumas's other works, such as Ange Pitou, the Bastille takes on a much darker appearance, being described as a place in which a prisoner is "forgotten, bankrupted, buried, destroyed". In England, Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

 took a similar perspective when he drew on popular histories of the Bastille in writing A Tale of Two Cities
A Tale of Two Cities
A Tale of Two Cities is a novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. With well over 200 million copies sold, it ranks among the most famous works in the history of fictional literature....

, in which Doctor Manette is "buried alive" in the prison for 18 years; many historical figures associated with the Bastille are reinvented as fictional individuals in the novel, such as Claude Cholat, reproduced by Dickens as "Ernest Defarge". Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
Victor-Marie Hugo was a Frenchpoet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France....

's 1862 novel Les Miserables
Les Misérables
Les Misérables , translated variously from the French as The Miserable Ones, The Wretched, The Poor Ones, The Wretched Poor, or The Victims), is an 1862 French novel by author Victor Hugo and is widely considered one of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century...

, set just after the Revolution, gave Napoleon's plaster Bastille elephant a permanent place in literary history. In 1889 the continued popularity of the Bastille with the public was illustrated by the decision to build a replica in stone and wood for the Exposition Universelle
Exposition Universelle (1889)
The Exposition Universelle of 1889 was a World's Fair held in Paris, France from 6 May to 31 October 1889.It was held during the year of the 100th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, an event traditionally considered as the symbol for the beginning of the French Revolution...

 world fair
World's Fair
World's fair, World fair, Universal Exposition, and World Expo are various large public exhibitions held in different parts of the world. The first Expo was held in The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London, United Kingdom, in 1851, under the title "Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All...

 in Paris, manned by actors in period costumes.

Due in part to the diffusion of national and Republican ideas across France during the second half of the Third Republic, the Bastille lost an element of its prominence as a symbol by the 20th century. Nonetheless, the Place de la Bastille continued to be the traditional location for left wing rallies, particularly in the 1930s, the symbol of the Bastille was widely evoked by the French Resistance
French Resistance
The French Resistance is the name used to denote the collection of French resistance movements that fought against the Nazi German occupation of France and against the collaborationist Vichy régime during World War II...

 during the Second World War and until the 1950s Bastille Day
Bastille Day
Bastille Day is the name given in English-speaking countries to the French National Day, which is celebrated on 14 July of each year. In France, it is formally called La Fête Nationale and commonly le quatorze juillet...

 remained the single most significant French national holiday.

Remains

Due to its destruction after 1789, very little remains of the Bastille in the 21st century. During the excavations for the Métro
Bastille (Paris Metro)
Bastille is a station on lines 1, 5 and 8 of the Paris Métro. It is located near the former location of the Bastille and remains of the Bastille can be seen on line 5. The platforms for line 1 are situated below road level but above the Basin of the Arsenal and Canal Saint Martin in a short-open...

 underground train system in 1899, the foundations of the Liberté Tower were uncovered and moved to the corner of the Boulevard Henri IV and the Quai de Celestins, where they can still be seen today. The Pont de la Concorde
Pont de la Concorde (Paris)
The Pont de la Concorde is an arch bridge across the River Seine in Paris connecting the Quai des Tuileries at the Place de la Concorde and the Quai d'Orsay...

 contains stones reused from the Bastille.

Some relics of the Bastille survive: the Carnavalet Museum
Carnavalet Museum
The Carnavalet Museum in Paris is dedicated to the history of the city. The museum occupies two neighboring mansions: the Hôtel Carnavalet and the former Hôtel Le Peletier de Saint Fargeau...

 holds objects including one of the stone models of the Bastille made by Palloy
Pierre-François Palloy
Pierre-François Palloy , self styled as Patriote Palloy was an entrepreneurial building contractor remembered for the demolition of the Bastille.-Biography:...

 and the rope ladder used by Latude
Jean Henri Latude
Jean Henri Latude , often called Danry or Masers de Latude, was a French writer famous for his lengthy confinement in the Bastille, at Vincennes, and for his repeated escapes from those prisons.-Life:...

 to escape from the prison roof in the 18th century, while the mechanism and bells of the prison clock are exhibited in Musée Européen d'Art Campanaire at L'Isle-Jourdain
L'Isle-Jourdain, Gers
L'Isle-Jourdain is a commune in the Gers department in southwestern France.-Population:Its inhabitants are called Lislois.-References:*...

. The key to the Bastille was given in to George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 in 1790 by Lafayette and is displayed in the historic house of Mount Vernon
Mount Vernon
The name Mount Vernon is a dedication to the English Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon. It was first applied to Mount Vernon, the Virginia estate of George Washington, the first President of the United States...

. The Bastille's archives are now held by the Bibliothèque nationale de France
Bibliothèque nationale de France
The is the National Library of France, located in Paris. It is intended to be the repository of all that is published in France. The current president of the library is Bruno Racine.-History:...

.

The Place de la Bastille
Place de la Bastille
The Place de la Bastille is a square in Paris, where the Bastille prison stood until the 'Storming of the Bastille' and its subsequent physical destruction between 14 July 1789 and 14 July 1790 during the French Revolution; no vestige of it remains....

 still occupies most of the location of the Bastille, and the Opéra Bastille
Opéra Bastille
L'Opéra Bastille ' is a modern opera house in Paris, France. It is the home base of the Opéra national de Paris and was designed to replace the Palais Garnier, which is nowadays mainly used for ballet performances....

 was built on the square in 1989 to commemorate the bicentennial anniversary of the storming of the prison. The surrounding area has largely been redeveloped from its 19th century industrial past. The ditch that originally linked the defences of the fortress to the River Seine had been dug out at the start of the 19th century to form the industrial harbour of the Bassin de l'Arsenal
Bassin de l'Arsenal
The Bassin de l'Arsenal is a boat basin in Paris. It links the Canal Saint-Martin, which begins at the Place de la Bastille, to the Seine, at the Quai de la Rapée...

, linked to the Canal Saint Martin, but is now a marina for pleasure boats, while the Promenade Plantée
Promenade Plantée
The Promenade plantée or the Coulée verte is a narrow, 4.7 km parkway in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, France.- Overview :The Promenade plantée is a extensive green belt that follows the old Vincennes railway line...

 links the square with redeveloped parklands to the east.

Historiography

A number of histories of the Bastille were published immediately after July 1789, usually with dramatic titles promising the uncovering of secrets from the prison. By the 1830s and 1840s, popular histories written by Pierre Joigneaux and by the trio of Auguste Maquet, A. Arnould and Jules-Édouard Alboize Du Pujol presented the years of the Bastille between 1358 and 1789 as a single, long period of royal tyranny and oppression, epitomised by the fortress; their works featured imaginative 19th century reconstructions of the medieval torture of prisoners. As living memories of the Revolution faded, the destruction of the Bastille meant that later historians had to rely primarily on memoires and documentary materials in analysing the fortress and the 5,279 prisoners who had come through the Bastille between 1659 and 1789. The Bastille's archives, recording the operation of the prison, had been scattered in the confusion after the seizure; with some effort, the Paris Assembly gathered around 600,000 of them in the following weeks, which form the basis of the modern archive. After being safely stored and ignored for many years, these archives were rediscovered by the French historian François Ravaisson, who catalogued and used them for research between 1866 and 1904.

At the end of the 19th century the historian Frantz Funck-Brentano
Frantz Funck-Brentano
Frantz Funck-Brentano was a French historian and librarian. He was born in the castle of Munsbach and died at Montfermeil...

 used the archives to undertake detailed research into the operation of the Bastille, focusing on the upper class prisoners in the Bastille, disproving many of the 18th-century myths about the institution and portraying the prison in a favourable light. Modern historians today consider Funck-Brentano's work slightly biased by his anti-Republican views, but his histories of the Bastille were highly influential and were largely responsible for establishing that the Bastille was a well-run, relatively benign institution. Historian Fernand Bournon used the same archive material to produce the Histoire de la Bastille in 1893, considered by modern historians to be one of the best and most balanced 19th-century histories of the Bastille. These works inspired the writing of a sequence of more popular histories of the Bastille in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including Auguste Coeuret's anniversary history of the Bastille, which typically focused on a handful of themes and stories involving the more glamorous prisoners from the upper classes of French society.

One of the major debates on the actual taking of the Bastille in 1789 has been the nature of the crowds that stormed the building. Hippolyte Taine
Hippolyte Taine
Hippolyte Adolphe Taine was a French critic and historian. He was the chief theoretical influence of French naturalism, a major proponent of sociological positivism, and one of the first practitioners of historicist criticism. Literary historicism as a critical movement has been said to originate...

 argued in the late 19th century that the crowd consisted of unemployed vagrants, who acted without real thought; by contrast, the post-war left wing intellectual George Rudé
George Rudé
George Rudé was a British Marxist historian, specializing in the French Revolution and "history from below," especially the importance of crowds in history.-Summary:...

 argued that the crowd was dominated by relatively prosperous artisan workers. The matter was reexamined by Jacques Godechot in the post-war years; Godechot showing convincingly that, in addition to some local artisans and traders, at least half the crowd that gathered that day were, like the inhabitants of the surrounding faubourg, recent immigrants to Paris from the provinces. Godechot used this to characterise the taking of the Bastille as a genuinely national event of wider importance to French society.

In the 1970s French sociologist
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

s, particularly those interested in critical theory
Critical theory
Critical theory is an examination and critique of society and culture, drawing from knowledge across the social sciences and humanities. The term has two different meanings with different origins and histories: one originating in sociology and the other in literary criticism...

, re-examined this historical legacy. The Annales School
Annales School
The Annales School is a group of historians associated with a style of historiography developed by French historians in the 20th century. It is named after its scholarly journal Annales d'histoire économique et sociale, which remains the main source of scholarship, along with many books and...

 conducted extensive research into how order was maintained in pre-Revolutionary France, focusing on the operation of the police, concepts of deviancy and religion. Histories of the Bastille since then have focused on the prison's role in policing, censorship and popular culture, in particular how these impacted on the working classes. Research in West Germany during the 1980s examined the cultural interpretation of the Bastille against the wider context of the French Revolution; Hanse Lüsebrink and Rolf Reichardt's work, explaining how the Bastille came to be regarded as a symbol of despotism
Despotism
Despotism is a form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power. That entity may be an individual, as in an autocracy, or it may be a group, as in an oligarchy...

, was the amongst the most prominent. This body of work influenced historian Simon Schama
Simon Schama
Simon Michael Schama, CBE is a British historian and art historian. He is a University Professor of History and Art History at Columbia University. He is best known for writing and hosting the 15-part BBC documentary series A History of Britain...

s 1989 book on the Revolution, which incorporated cultural interpretation of the Bastille with a controversial critique of the violence surrounding the storming of the Bastille. The Bibliothèque nationale de France
Bibliothèque nationale de France
The is the National Library of France, located in Paris. It is intended to be the repository of all that is published in France. The current president of the library is Bruno Racine.-History:...

held a major exhibition on the legacy of the Bastille between 2010 and 2011, resulting in a substantial edited volume summarising the current academic perspectives on the fortress.

External links

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