History Podcasts

Why Was the Storming of the Bastille Important?

Why Was the Storming of the Bastille Important?

Why was the storming of the Bastille important? On 14 July 1789, when the Bastille in Paris, France was stormed it only housed seven old prisoners, none of which were politically important. There were even plans to close down the prison because it was so costly to maintain, for such a small purpose. The regular garrison that was posted there consisted of a bunch of “invalides,” veteran soldiers who were no longer seen as fit for battle. The King didn't even know about this event until the next day and while 90 attackers died in the battle, only one defender died before the surrender. To him it was as unimportant as an insignificant village. So why is the Storming of the Bastille then seen as such an important event that it has become the most important French national day?

Why Was the Storming of the Bastille Important? Reasons for the Attack

The main reason why the rebel Parisians stormed the Bastille was not to free any prisoners but to get ammunition and arms. At the time, over 30,000 pounds of gunpowder was stored at the Bastille. But to them, it was also a symbol of the monarchy's tyranny.

This armed the Parisian rebels, allowing the possibility of a successful offensive attack. At the time the monarchy did not realize the significance of this capture, which speaks partly to his ignorance of the precariousness of French domestic politics at the time, but also that the event carries more symbolic significance than it did military strategic importance at the time.

Why Was the Storming of the Bastille Important Symbolical Significance

Traditionally, this fortress was used by French kings to imprison subjects that didn't agree with them politically, making the Bastille a representation of the oppressive nature of the monarchy. This event was the start of the French Revolution and the eventual fall of the French monarchy.