July 14, 1789: The Storming of the Bastille

European Royal History

The Storming of the Bastille occurred in Paris, France, on the afternoon of July 14, 1789.

The medieval armory, fortress, and political prison known as the Bastille represented royal authority in the centre of Paris. The prison contained only seven inmates at the time of its storming but was seen by the revolutionaries as a symbol of the monarchy’s abuse of power; its fall was the flashpoint of the French Revolution.

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Background

During the reign of Louis XVI of France and Navarre, France faced a major economic crisis. This crisis was caused in part by the cost of intervening in the American Revolution and exacerbated by a regressive system of taxation. On May 5, 1789, the Estates General of 1789 convened to deal with this issue, but were held back by archaic protocols and the conservatism of the second estate: representing the nobility who made up less than 2% of…

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