Storming of the Bastille

14 July 1789

Storming of the Bastille


  • Intro

    On 14 July 1789, a state prison on the east side of Paris, known as the Bastille, was attacked by an angry and aggressive mob. The prison had become a symbol of the monarchy's dictatorial rule, and the event became one of the defining moments in the Revolution that followed. This article reporting the events of 14 July was published in an English newspaper called The World, a few days after the event took place.


    A medieval fortress, the Bastille's 8 30-metre-high towers dominated the Parisian skyline. When the prison was attacked it actually held only seven prisoners, but the mob had not gathered for them: it had come to demand the huge ammunition stores held within the prison walls. When the prison governor refused to comply, the mob charged and, after a violent battle, eventually took hold of the building. The governor was seized and killed, his head carried round the streets on a spike. The storming of the Bastille symbolically marked the beginning of the French Revolution, in which the monarchy was overthrown and a republic set up based on the ideas of 'Liberté, Égalité, fraternité' (the French for liberty, equality and brotherhood). In France, the 'storming of the Bastille' is still celebrated each year by a national holiday.


    Shelfmark: British Library Newspaper Archive.

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