What is Bastille Day in French ?

What is Bastille Day in French
What is Bastille Day in French

What is Bastille Day in French – History

As France sought to confront an economic crisis in 1789, tensions between reformist and conservative factions grew. The Estates-General the legislative body was resurrected in May, but members of the Third Estate broke ranks, declaring themselves the country’s National Assembly and vowing to produce a constitution on June 20. On July 11, Jacques Necker, Louis XVI’s Finance Minister and a supporter of the Third Estate was dismissed by the monarch, causing outrage among Parisians. Fearing an attack by the royal army or foreign mercenary troops in the king’s command, crowds collected and sought to equip the general citizenry. On the morning of July 14, a throng surrounded the Hôtel des Invalides in search of weapons, muskets, and canons housed in the vaults.

On the same day, a crowd stormed the Bastille, a fortress-prison in Paris that had historically housed people imprisoned on the basis of lettres de cachet (literally “signet letters”), arbitrary royal indictments that could not be appealed and did not specify the reason for the imprisonment, and was thought to house a cache of ammunition and gunpowder. The Bastille held only seven detainees at the time of the invasion, none of whom were of great political importance.

What is Bastille Day in French
What is Bastille Day in French

The throng was finally bolstered by the mutinous Régiment des Gardes Françaises (“French Guards”), whose primary mission was to protect public buildings. They proved a worthy opponent for the fort’s defenders, and the Bastille’s commander, Governor de Launay, capitulated and opened the gates to avoid a mutual massacre. According to official documents, around 200 assailants and only one defender died before the surrender. Fighting resumed, probably as a result of a misunderstanding. De Launay and seven other defenders were slain in the second round of battle, as was Jacques de Flesselles, the prévôt des Marchands (“provost of the merchants”), the elected head of the city’s guilds, who possessed the powers of a modern-day mayor under the feudal monarchy. Feudalism was abolished shortly after the storming of the Bastille, late in the evening of August 4th, following a tumultuous session of the Assemblée constituante.

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (Déclaration des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen) was promulgated on August 26th.

Fête de la Fédération

Preliminary plans for a national festival began as early as 1789, the year of the storming of the Bastille. The purpose of these designs was to strengthen the country’s national identity by commemorating the events of July 14, 1789. Clément Gonchon, a French textile worker, provided one of the first plans on December 9, 1789, when he presented his design for a festival commemorating the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille to The French city administration and the general public. Other ideas and unofficial 14 July 1789 festivities arose, but the official holiday authorized by the National Assembly was known as the Fête de la Fédération. On July 14, 1790, the Fête de la Fédération was held to commemorate the French nation’s unity throughout the French Revolution. One year after the storming of the Bastille, the goal of this festival was to signify peace. The event took held on the Champ de Mars, which was at the time a long way outside of Paris. The work required to turn the Champ de Mars into a suitable venue for the celebration was not expected to be completed on time. Thousands of Parisians assembled on the Journée des brouettes (“The Day of the Wheelbarrow”) to complete the necessary building for the festival.

The National Guard formed and marched along the avenue du Temple in the pouring rain on the day of the festival, when they were met by an estimated 260,000 Parisians at the Champ de Mars. Talleyrand, Bishop of Autun, celebrated a mass. General Lafayette, captain of the Paris National Guard and a confidant of the king, was the first to swear allegiance to the constitution, followed by King Louis XVI. Following the formal celebration, the day culminated in a massive four-day popular feast, during which people celebrated with fireworks, fine wine, and running naked through the streets to demonstrate their great freedom.

Origin of the Current Celebration:

On June 30, 1878, a feast was held in Paris to commemorate the French Republic (the event was commemorated in a painting by Claude Monet). Another feast, with a semi-official aspect, was held on July 14, 1879. A banquet at the Chamber of Deputies arranged and presided over by Léon Gambetta

, a military review at Longchamp, and a Republican Feast in the Pré Catalan were among the festivities of the day. “People feasted heavily to honor the assault of the Bastille” across France, according to Le Figaro.

The Third Republic’s government wanted to recreate the 14 July festival in 1880. The festival’s reintroduction had been in the works for about a decade, thanks to the efforts of prominent politicians Léon Gambetta and academic Henri Baudrillant. Benjamin Raspail proposed a statute on May 21, 1880, that “the Republic adopt 14 July as the day of an annual national holiday,” which was signed by sixty-four members of government.

There were various disagreements on which date should be commemorated as the national holiday, including 4 August (the end of the feudal system), 5 May (the first meeting of the Estates-General), 27 July (the fall of Robespierre), and 21 January (Louis XVI’s execution). The administration agreed on the 14th of July as the holiday’s date, but it was still a bit of a headache. The actions of July 14, 1789, were illegal under the previous government, contradicting the Third Republic’s demand for legal legitimacy.

Furthermore, French officials did not desire a single foundation of their national holiday as the storming day of the Bastille was rooted in a carnage and class hate day. Instead, they founded the event as a combination of the Fête de la Fédération, a festival commemorating the first anniversary of the French Revolution on July 14, 1789, and the storming of the Bastille.

On the 21st of May and the 8th of June, the Assembly endorsed the proposal, and the law was passed on the 27th and 29th of June. On July 6, 1880, the statute became effective. Senator Henri Martin, who wrote the National Day law, spoke to the House on 29 June 1980 during the discussion leading to the passing of the holiday. Remember that behind this 14 July,

“When fighting bought the victory of the new era over the ancient regime, do not overlook the 14 July 1790 date (…) It cannot be blamed this [last] day for shedding a drop of blood and dividing the country. It was France’s unity consecration (…) If some of you have any doubts about the first 14 July, surely no one will contend with the second. Whatever the difference between us or something that is hanging over us, it’s the great images of national unity that we all want, that we all stand for, willing to die if need be.”

Martin Henri, 1880

Bastille Day Military Parade:

The military parade on Bastille Day is the French military parade, held in Paris since 1880 every year in the morning. In the past, the ceremony took place in the Champs-Élysées with the participation of the Allies represented by the Versailles Peace Conference since 1918, excluding the German period of occupation between 1940 and1945 (which took place in London under General Charles de Gaulle); and 2020 with the participation of the COVID-19 pandemic, which took place within or around the capital city. 

The parade passes from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde, where the President and foreign ambassadors of the French Republic are located. This is a popular event in France on French television and is Europe’s oldest and largest regular military parade. In several years, invited foreign troops will take part and foreigners will be guests. In French garrison towns, including Toulon and Belfort, there are smaller military parades with the local troops.


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