France celebrates Bastille Day on July 14th - it's like Independence Day in the US but this day remembers the end of the French monarchy and the beginning of the French Revolution. This is when a large group of people in France rebelled against their king and queen.
Behind the French Revolution
The French had good reason to rebel. The corrupt king and queen's actions were causing the poor to go hungry and the wealthy, middle-class merchants and businessmen were tired of not having thier concerns heard. By the late 1780s, people in France were fed up and so they began speaking out and met in groups to demand that new laws be made. King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette tried to quiet everyone, but the citizens eventually rebelled.
The Bastille was a prison in Paris where the king and queen usually locked up people who didn't agree with their decisions. To a lot of French, the Bastille prison was a symbol of the corrupt system run by the monarchy. On July 14, 1789 the French Revolution began when a large group stormed the Bastille. The Revolution lasted for 10 years and brought some great changes (along with many deaths). While democracy wasn't established for several decades, the Revolution served as a turning point for how France was governed. In 1880, nearly 100 years after the storming, Bastille Day became a national holiday. Today, most locals in France have festive dances and big firework displays on Bastille Eve and on Bastille Day there are parades, bands and more dancing!
Did You Know?
- Bastille comes from the French word bastide, which means stronghold.
- France's tricolor flag (blue, red and white) was introduced during the Revolution. The three colors represent the ideals of the French people - liberty, equality and fraternity for all citizens.
- When the prison was stormed on July 14th there were only seven prisoners left in the Bastille.
- Have you heard about the Man in the Iron Mask? He was a Bastille prisoner from 1698 to 1703.
- The famous philosopher and writer, Voltaire, was also a prisoner of the Bastille.
Have Your Say
What do you do to celebrate Bastille Day? Let us know!