What Did the Bastille Represent?

The Bastille is a former fortress in Paris, France, that was famously stormed by a crowd during the French Revolution. It was a symbol of the cruelty and mistreatment of the common people by the French monarchy under Louis XVI.

The Bastille was built in the 1300s and converted into a prison in the 1700s. It was used as a state facility by the kings of France and housed primarily political prisoners and upper-class members of French society. Most of the Bastille’s prisoners were not given a trial but were held under the king’s orders. To the French commoners, the Bastille was a symbol of the tyranny of the French monarchy.

On July 14, 1789, the Parisian commoners stormed the Bastille in response to a political crisis. At the time of the storming, only seven inmates were housed in the Bastille. Regardless, the successful storming was a momentous event and a turning point in the French Revolution.

The Bastille was eventually demolished and replaced by a vibrant city square called the Place de la Bastille. Due to its famous association with the Revolution, the Place de la Bastille is a common site for political demonstrations. In France, the date of the storming of the Bastille is a federal holiday.