Historical Events  General
The Storming of the Bastille

How many prisoners released?

MMDE: Hundreds of prisoners freed

Current: 7 prisoners freed

It's a common notion that the French Revolution was started when the angry mob stormed the Bastille, freeing all the prisoners held there by the evil ruling monarchy so they could join their ranks and take over the country. That's partly true - but how many prisoners were freed? The image of thousands swarming out, cheering on the revolutionaries is a popular one, but history is showing this isn't the case, as in fact there were 7.

The Bastille was a large, imposing fortress which was also used as a weapons and ammunition store. This made it a target for the revolutionaries, but it's role as a symbol of the tyrannical royal family, which often imprisoned people there with no trial, was clearly of great importance too.

Started the French Revolution

As the sun rose on July 14, 1789, a large crowd armed with muskets, pikes and various makeshift weapons gathered round the Bastille. By lunchtime a white flag was raised from its rooftops. The great storming was over, and the revolution had begun - and that date would forever be known as Bastille Day.

The crowds of unrest had been gathering in Paris for weeks. The French Army had seen the unrest, and many had families suffering at the hands of the royals themselves. This meant many of them switched sides, and joined th people. Had they not done so, and stayed loyal to the royals, there would have been a full on French civil war of the kind seen in England, and for broadly the same reasons, but since the people came to defeat the royal army so easily it was to all intents a civil war over just as it began, a.k.a The French Revolution.

The key to the Bastille was given to the US President of the day, George Washington, and it's on display at Mount Vernon to this day.