Top 5 Facts: The Bastille

Stormed during the opening days of the French Revolution, the Bastille epitomised the power of France’s ruling Bourbon monarchy.

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Top 5 Facts: The Bastille
The taking of the Bastille by French revolutionaries.

1. Charlie – The Bastille was ordered by Charles V of France. The first stone was laid on 22 April 1370, but it would not be completed in its 18th Century iteration until 1557.

2. Gate – The Bastille was designed to be a highly fortified gate, to be
integrated into the Paris city wall. Charles VI made it a stronghold, walling up openings and refortifying.

3. Cardi – Cardinal de Richelieu was the first to use the Bastille as a state prison in the 17th Century. Prisoners tended to be troublemakers who raised grievances against the state.

4. Cachet – Every prisoner was interned by lettre de cachet, a direct order of the King. During the Bastille’s time as a prison, an average of 40 people were resident at all times.

5. Demolition – Due to the cost of maintaining such a massive structure, the nobility of France considered demolishing the Bastille as early as 1784. It was finally demolished in 1789.