Bastille

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Bastille

(băstēl`) [O.Fr.,=fortress], fortress and state prison in Paris, located, until its demolition (started in 1789), near the site of the present Place de la Bastille. It was begun c.1369 by Hugh Aubriot, provost of the merchants [mayor] of Paris under King Charles V. Arbitrary and secret imprisonment by lettre de cachetlettre de cachet
, formerly in French law, private, sealed document, issued as a communication from the king. Such a letter could order imprisonment or exile for an individual without recourse to courts of law.
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 gave rise to stories of horror, but actually the Bastille was generally used for persons of influence, and its regime for most political prisoners was mild. As a symbol of absolutism the Bastille was hated. It had strategic importance, for its guns commanded one of the gates of Paris. On July 14, 1789, a Parisian crowd stormed the Bastille in the hope of capturing ammunition. The governor was killed; the seven inmates, none of them political prisoners, were freed. The storming of the Bastille marks the beginning of the French RevolutionFrench Revolution,
political upheaval of world importance in France that began in 1789. Origins of the Revolution

Historians disagree in evaluating the factors that brought about the Revolution.
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, and July 14—Bastille Day—became the national holiday of republican France.

bastille, bastile

1. A fortification or castle, frequently used as a prison.
2. A tower or bulwark in the fortifications of a town.

Bastille

Paris prison stormed on July 14, 1789. [Fr. Hist.: Worth, 21]

Bastille

a fortress in Paris, built in the 14th century: a prison until its destruction in 1789, at the beginning of the French Revolution