On This Day, July 14, 1789 – Les Révolutionnaires Français Tempête la Bastille

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1789 – Parisian revolutionaries and mutinous troops storm and dismantle the Bastille, a royal fortress that had come to symbolize the tyranny of the Bourbon monarchs. This dramatic action signaled the beginning of the French Revolution, a decade of political turmoil and terror in which King Louis XVI was overthrown and tens of thousands of people, including the king and his wife Marie Antoinette, were executed.

The Bastille was originally constructed in 1370 as a bastide, or “fortification,” to protect the walled city of Paris from English attack. It was later made into an independent stronghold, and its name – bastide – was corrupted to Bastille. The Bastille was first used as a state prison in the 17th century, and its cells were reserved for upper-class felons, political troublemakers, and spies. Most prisoners there were imprisoned without a trial under direct orders of the king. Standing 100 feet tall and surrounded by a moat more than 80 feet wide, the Bastille was an imposing structure in the Parisian landscape.

By the summer of 1789, France was moving quickly toward revolution. There were severe food shortages in France that year, and popular resentment against the rule of King Louis XVI was turning to fury. In June, the Third Estate, which represented commoners and the lower clergy, declared itself the National Assembly and called for the drafting of a constitution. Initially seeming to yield, Louis legalized the National Assembly but then surrounded Paris with troops and dismissed Jacques Necker, a popular minister of state who had supported reforms. In response, mobs began rioting in Paris at the instigation of revolutionary leaders.

At dawn on July 14, a great crowd armed with muskets, swords, and various makeshift weapons began to gather around the Bastille.

Around 3 p.m., a company of deserters from the French army arrived. The soldiers, hidden by smoke from fires set by the mob, dragged five cannons into the courtyard and aimed them at the Bastille. Soldiers raised a white flag of surrender over the fortress.Bernard-Jordan de Launay, the military governor of the Bastille, and his men were taken into custody, the gunpowder and cannons were seized, and the seven prisoners of the Bastille were freed. Upon arriving at the Hotel de Ville, where Launay was to be arrested by a revolutionary council, the governor was pulled away from his escort by a mob and murdered.

The capture of the Bastille symbolized the end of the ancien regime and provided the French revolutionary cause with an irresistible momentum. Joined by four-fifths of the French army, the revolutionaries seized control of Paris and then the French countryside, forcing King Louis XVI to accept a constitutional government. In 1792, the monarchy was abolished and Louis and his wife Marie-Antoinette were sent to the guillotine for treason in 1793.


1430 – Joan of Arc, taken prisoner by the Burgundians in May, was handed over to Pierre Cauchon, the bishop of Beauvais.

1536 – France and Portugal signed the naval treaty of Lyons, which aligned them against Spain.

1798 – The U.S. Congress passed the Sedition Act. The act made it a federal crime to write, publish, or utter false or malicious statements about the U.S. government.

1891 – The primacy of Thomas Edison’s lamp patents was upheld in the court decision Electric Light Company vs. U.S. Electric Lighting Company.

1900 – European Allies retook Tientsin, China, from the rebelling Boxers.

1911 – Harry N. Atwood landed an airplane on the lawn of the White House to accept an award from U.S. President William Taft.

1914 – Robert H. Goddard patented liquid rocket-fuel.

1933 – All German political parties except the Nazi Party were outlawed.

1940 – A force of German Ju-88 bombers attacked Suez, Egypt, from bases in Crete.

1945 – American battleships and cruisers bombarded the Japanese home islands for the first time.

1946 – Dr. Benjamin Spock’s “The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care” was first published.

1951 – The first sports event to be shown in color, on CBS-TV, was the Molly Pitcher Handicap at Oceanport, NJ.

1951 – The George Washington Carver National Monument in Joplin, MO, became the first national park to honor an African American.

1958 – The army of Iraq overthrew the monarchy.

1965 – The American space probe Mariner 4 flew by Mars, and sent back photographs of the planet.


1967 – The Who began their first full-scale U.S. tour as the opening act for Herman’s Hermits.


1967 – Eddie Mathews (Houston Astros) hit his 500th career home run.

1968 – Hank Aaron (Atlanta Braves) hit his 500th career home run.

1998 – Los Angeles sued 15 tobacco companies for $2.5 billion over the dangers of secondhand smoke.

2001 – Beijing was awarded the 2008 Olympics. It was the first time that the China had been awarded the games.

2003 – Jerry Springer officially filed papers to run for the U.S. Senate from Ohio.

 

Source: History.com; On-This-Day.com

 

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