French Revolution

What caused the fall of the Bastille?


Wiki User

The reasons were:

  1. While the National Assembly was busy at Versailles drafting a constitution, the rest of France seethed with turmoil.
  2. A severe winter had meant bad harvest, the price of bread rose, bakers exploited the situation and hoarded supplies.
  3. After spending hours in long queues at the bakery, crowds of angry women stormed into the shops.
  4. At the same time the king ordered troops to move into Paris. On 14July, the agitated crowd stormed and destroyed the Bastille.
Wiki User

The storming of the Bastille on July 14th, 1789 occured because the people felt the need to arm themselves and arms were stored up at the Bastille. During the reign of Louis XVI, France faced a major financial crisis, triggered by the cost of intervening in the American War of Independence, and exacerbated by an unequal system of taxation. On 5 May 1789, the Estates-General of 1789 convened to deal with this issue, but was held back by archaic protocols and the conservatism of the Second Estate. On 17 June 1789, the Third Estate, with its representatives drawn from the middle class, or bourgeoisie, reconstituted themselves as the National Assembly, a body whose purpose was the creation of a French constitution. The king initially opposed this development, but was forced to acknowledge the authority of the assembly, which subsequently renamed itself the National Constituent Assembly on 9 July. Paris, close to insurrection, and, in François Mignet's words, "intoxicated with liberty and enthusiasm, showed wide support for the Assembly. On 11 July 1789, with troops at Versailles, Sèvres, the Champ de Mars, and Saint-Denis, Louis XVI, acting under the influence of the conservative nobles of his privy council, dismissed and banished his finance minister, Jacques Necker, who had been sympathetic to the Third Estate, and completely reconstructed the ministry. News of Necker's dismissal reached Paris in the afternoon of Sunday, 12 July. The Parisians generally presumed that the dismissal marked the start of a coup by conservative elements. Liberal Parisians were further enraged by the fear that a concentration of Royal troops brought to Versailles from frontier garrisons would attempt to shut down the National Constituent Assembly, which was meeting in Versailles. Crowds gathered throughout Paris, including more than ten thousand at the Palais-Royal.

Camille Desmoulins, a known freemason from the lodge of the Nine Sisters, successfully rallied the crowd by "mounting a table, pistol in hand, exclaiming: 'Citizens, there is no time to lose; the dismissal of Necker is the knell of a Saint Bartholomew for patriots! This very night all the Swiss and German battalions will leave the Champ de Mars to massacre us all; one resource is left; to take arms!' The demonstrators had earlier stormed the Hôtel des Invalides to gather arms (29,000 to 32,000 muskets, but without powder or shot), and were mainly seeking to acquire the large quantities of arms and ammunition stored at the Bastille - on the 14th there were over 13,600 kg (30,000 lb) of gunpowder stored there. At this point, the Bastille was nearly empty of prisoners, housing only seven inmates: four forgers, two "lunatics" and one "deviant" aristocrat. The governor of the Bastille prison was monsieur De Launay. Ninety-eight attackers and one defender had died in the actual fighting. De Launay was seized and dragged towards the Hôtel de Ville in a storm of abuse. Outside the Hôtel a discussion as to his fate began. The badly beaten de Launay shouted "Enough! Let me die!" and kicked a pastry cook named Dulait in the groin. De Launay was then stabbed repeatedly and fell, and his head was sawed off and fixed on a pike to be carried through the streets