| Share
 

Bastille Day

The French celebrate their Fourth of July

by Ricco Villanueva Siasoco
Photo of Maire Antoinette

Marie Antoinette, wife of King Louis XVI, is often mistakenly credited with the quote, "Let them eat cake!"

Related Links

Americans have The 4th of July; the French have Bastille Day. On July 14, 1789, an outraged group of Parisians stormed the Bastille, a fortress and prison in France where prisoners of influence were held, in hopes of capturing ammunition.

Shortly thereafter, King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette took refuge in Versailles as the violent peasants pillaged and burned châteaux, and destroyed records of feudal dues—this reaction is known as the grande peur (great fear).

For the peasant class, the Bastille stood as a symbol of the hypocrisy and corruption of the aristocratic government - controlled mostly by nobility and clergy. This important event marked the entry of the popular class into the French Revolution.

The French recognize Bastille Day as the end of the monarchy and beginning of the modern republic. The lasting significance of the event was in its recognition that power could be held by ordinary citizens, not in the king or in God.

Today, Parisians celebrate this national holiday with a grand military parade up the Champs Elysées, colorful arts festivals, and raucous parties marking the holiday. Uncork a bottle of wine, pop in a Jacques Dutronc CD, and join the celebration!




Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

Did you know?
Contrary to popular belief, only 30% of the Sahara is made up of sand.

24 X 7

Private Tutor

Click Here for Details
24 x 7 Tutor Availability
Unlimited Online Tutoring
1-on-1 Tutoring