WAIT, WAIT, DON’T GUILLOTINE ME! Question 1
Test – and refresh – your knowledge of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror with this simple multiple-choice quiz!
1. The French national holiday of Bastille Day, celebrated on July 14, commemorates the fall of the Bastille fortress in Paris to revolutionary crowds on July 14, 1789, considered to be the beginning of the French Revolution, in order to:
A. Free the thousands of political prisoners, including hundreds of subversive writers, held there by King Louis XVI.
B. Seize gunpowder stored there so they could arm themselves against a feared attack on the city and the new revolutionary assembly by the royal army.
C. Provide access for starving Parisians to Marie Antoinette’s cake horde.
Answer: B. Seize gunpowder stored there so they could arm themselves against a feared attack on the city and the new revolutionary assembly by the royal army.
It is true that during the 17th and 18th centuries, the French monarchy imprisoned hundreds of supposedly seditious writers — including, most famously, Voltaire — in the large, sinister fortress that loomed over eastern Paris. But it had largely discontinued the practice years before the revolution, and on July 14, 1789, the Bastille held only seven prisoners: four co cunterfeiters, two “madmen,” and a nobleman accused of sexual perversion.
The main reason why the rebel Parisians stormed the Bastille was to get ammunition and arms. At the time, over 30,000 pounds of gunpowder was stored at the Bastille, which was also seen as a symbol of the monarchy’s tyranny.
Source: “5 Myths about the French Revolution,” by Daniel A. Bell, The Washington Post, July 9, 2015.
March 8 – 24, 2019