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The Storming of the Bastille

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Hulton Archive / Getty Images

The Storming of the Bastille

Hulton Archive / Getty Images
The Storming of the Bastille: perhaps the most iconic moment in the French Revolution was when a Paris crowd stormed and captured the Bastille. This imposing structure was a royal prison, a target of many myths and legends. Crucially for the events of 1789, it was also a storehouse of gunpowder. As the Paris crowd grew more militant and took to the streets to defend themselves and the revolution, they searched for gunpowder to arm their weapons, and Paris’ supply had been moved for safekeeping to the Bastille. A crowd of civilians and rebel soldiers thus attacked it and the man in charge of the garrison, knowing he was unprepared for a siege and wanting to minimise violence, surrendered. There were only seven prisoners inside. The hated structure was soon torn down.

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