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July 14: Celebrating a Sham!
Do the French actually know what their National Day is about?
If you ask the French, they will tell you in perfect unison that on July 14, 1789, a starving populace seized the Bastille, a dreadful prison where the Kings locked up their opponents in sordid dungeons.
This is how the “Revolution” started, or so they are taught…
Powder and ammunition
There is nothing symbolic in the attack on the Bastille. It is not intended to free the inmates imprisoned by order of the King.
No, the goal is much more pragmatic.
The insurrectional climate that has been raging in Paris for nearly two months has led to the creation of a bourgeois militia. Remember that the “Revolution” was not led by the people, but an elitist, privileged and power hungry clique.
To arm this troop, groups of demonstrators rushed to the Invalides (a major monument in Paris) on the morning of July 14. They seize guns stored at this location, without facing any resistance.
All that's missing now is ammunition.
And guess what? There is an arsenal close by. Its name? The Bastille, where 250 barrels of gunpowder rest.
An old fortress
At the time, the Bastille was no more than an old medieval fortress that Louis XVI was already planning to raze.
Under the command of Governor De Launay, the prison is defended by 32 Swiss Guards and 82 disabled soldiers.
The thick walls and the drawbridge constitute a solid protection against an angry mob and the blows of rifles or cannons.
The Bastille was not “taken”, it surrendered!
After refusing to deliver the ammunition the mob demanded, the governor of the Bastille, Mr De Launay, receives a delegation of the besiegers. He even invites them to lunch and has the cannons removed from the towers as a sign of appeasement.
But the crowd keeps pushing. Despite many attempts, the assault on the fortress fails. The governor demands that the attackers surrender, and threatens, in case of refusal, to blow up the powder reserves.
The rioters promise that no harm will be done to the garrison. Mr De Launay, still willing to negotiate, decides to lower the drawbridge.
This fatal mistake will change the course of history, and not only in France …
The killing begins
The crowd immediately rushes inside the fortress. In the scramble, shots are fired and the massacre begins. Several officers are cut to pieces, invalids are hanged, while the Bastille is looted.
The governor will pay be the ultimate price for his naivety and willingness to negotiate (some would said his cowardice). Like the others he is slaughtered. His head, cut off with a kitchen knife, is carried around on a pike.
The crowd even drinks his blood, an act that will become widespread during the Revolution. The terror has begun…
The Lavoisier library
The rich library of Lavoisier, father of modern chemistry, is ransacked and sets on fire.
In 1794 Lavoisier will be “guillotined”. The president of the court then declared: “The Republic does not need scientists or chemists”.
Only 7 inmates!
To the great surprise of the crowd, this horrible prison where, according to the rumor, opponents of the Kings of France were locked up and tortured, only housed 7 prisoners that day: 4 forgers, 1 libertine and two loons.
Ironically, none of them had been jailed by royal order!
For the record, these prisoners will not enjoy their freedom for long. They will be imprisoned again a few days later!
This prison was so terrible that the cell doors were not closed. The prisoners came and went as they pleased. They could even bring in their own furniture and servants!
The 14th of July does not celebrate the “taking” of the Bastille!
It is often ignored that July 14 commemorates the Federation Day, which took place in Paris a year after the Bastille event, on July 14, 1790. It was supposed to celebrate the union of the French people.
A forgotten event
The commemoration of the attack on the Bastille was not perpetuated and even fell into oblivion under successive regimes.
It’s the Third Republic, almost 100 years later, in 1880, that will choose the Federation Day as the French National Day, an event more suitable than the atrocious episode of July 14, 1789.
However, for the French people, the National Day still is associated with the storming of the Bastille. After all, this is what they are taught in elementary school…
The English-speaking doubles down by calling this notorious day… “Bastille Day”!
A butterfly effect?
If De Launay had not lowered the drawbridge, if he had not surrendered, the Bastille wouldn’t have been taken? Would France, and the world be the same today?
Would the Revolution have taken place? Perhaps, but not in the way we know.
Would the communist revolutions of Russia and China have seen the light of day?
Would tyrants like Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro have massacred hundreds of millions of people?
By lowering the drawbridge of the Bastille on this infamous day of July 14, De Launay initiated a process that would set the world on fire.
It still is burning today. Isn't that right Mr Macron?
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