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Celebrating Bastille Day
What Is Bastille Day?
Bastille Day is a National Holiday of France celebrated on July 14thevery year. Bastille Day commemorates the anniversary of the day the French people stormed the Bastille Fortress in 1789. This event serves as a symbol of the French Revolution and the uprising of the modern nation of France. Bastille Day is the equivalent to Independence Day in the United States of America.
The Storming of The Bastille
In May of 1789, King Louis XVI convened the Estates-General to hear grievances. The Estates General was formed in 1614 and was a general assembly that served the French Public. There were three Estates that made up the Estates-General. The First Estate represented the interests of the Clergy. The Second Estate represented the interests of the Nobility. In the May 1789 convention, The Third Estate, which represents the common people, decided to break away from the National Assembly after King Louis refused to help the common people. Then the Third Estate took the Tennis Court Oath and on June 20 after finding that the doors to their chamber was locked. They congregated in a nearby tennis court and swore to keep meeting there until a constitution had been written.
However, the Third Estate and others in France feared that King Louis was going to consolidate his power through military means. On July 11, Jacques Necker was dismissed for advocating more rights for the people. The people of Paris were angry. In order to ensure they had adequate firepower to defend against a military attack, the people stormed the Bastille, a fortress-prison in Paris to gain ammunition and gunpowder. The Bastille also held political prisoners who had displeased the government.
After it became apparent that the crowd would overwelm the fort’s offenders, the commander of the Bastille ordered that the gate be opened. Fighting resumed anyways and many of the attackers were killed.
Celebrating Bastille Day
Bastille Day in France is celebrated in many different ways. The most elaborate is the parade held on the Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris in front of the President of the Republic. The parade opens with a viewing of cadets and troops. Later the President of France hosts a garden party at the Palais de l’Elysee. Bastille Day is also celebrated on the Tour De France by French Riders who try to a win a stage victory. Also, since 1991, the President of France pardons petty offenders on Bastille Day, although the current President has decided to discontinue this practice.