Fall of the Bastille
n the morning of July 14, 1789, a Parisian mob of some
eight thousand men and women in search of weapons
streamed toward the Bastille, a royal armory filled with arms
and ammunition. The Bastille was also a state prison.
Although it contained only seven prisoners at the time, in the
eyes of those angry Parisians it was a glaring symbol of the
government’s harsh policies. The armory was defended by
the Marquis de Launay and a small garrison of 114 men.
The assault began at one o’clock in the afternoon when a
group of attackers managed to lower two drawbridges over the
moat surrounding the fortress. The mob was joined by mem-
bers of the French Guard, who began to bombard the fortress
with cannon balls. After four hours of fighting, 98 attackers lay
dead or dying. Only one defender had been killed.
As more attackers arrived, de Launay realized that he and
his troops could not hold out much longer and surrendered.