Raid on Bastille

Liam Mall, Guest Writer

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“Hey child, come back! You did not pay for that.” I try to compete with his pace, but the child disappears in the filthy, crowded streets. He managed to pick-pocket me of my silver. “I’m gonna kill that boy!” Ever since King Louis XVI took the throne, life in Paris has been grim and bleak. Providing basic necessities for my family has been burdening. I continue to walk across the streets looking for the rat that took my money. The King is a poor leader who only concerns himself with food and his friends, he doesn’t care about his people.

“Excuse me Monsieur, have you seen a boy about one meter tall, wearing blue trousers?”

“Sorry, I have not. For what purpose are you looking for a boy?”

“The child has taken my assignats.”

I walk away from the man and return home. Even if he did see the boy, he wouldn’t care to tell me. Everyone cares about one thing: To support themselves and their loved ones, the same thing I want to do. The winter has been detrimental to the crops. No one has food and hope of surviving the famine is fleeting. Every passing day of the King’s rule adds another day of torment to us.

*          *          *

“Andre! Andre!”

The February breeze blows through the field. The rustling vegetation clash with the noise of my sickle striking the cold soil.

“Andre!”

I hear a distant murmur. I think nothing of it.

The clarity of the voice increases, as a figure approaches me from across the field. Pierre?

“What is it Pierre?”

“Your wife! She has fallen ill. she collapsed earlier this morning, and I came as fast as I can to tell you.”

I hastily stop what I am doing and hurry towards my home to examine her.

*          *          *

I see the physician on the front steps of my home.

“Bonjour, Monsieur. Where is she?”

“She is in the sleeping quarters, she is terribly ill.”

We both enter the room.

“What is wrong with her?” The physician has been a long time friend of me and my wife. He always looks out for us and never ask for payment.

“She shows symptoms of malnourishment and starvation. She will need to rest and gain weight.”

I approach Marie and hold her hand. I promise her that I will do all I can to help her.

*          *          *

A couple of months has passed, Marie has recovered some strength, but she still is weak. I worry if I’m not able to provide food for her, starvation has been ravishing the city of Paris. All around the city riots have been spurring and outbreaks of peasants have been rebelling against the regime. Later that night Pierre visits me.

“Bonjour Pierre.”

“Hello Andre, I come here not to examine your wife, but to inform you of a coalition of people.”

“A coalition? What exactly do you mean?”

“The bastille, Andre. A group of our countrymen are plotting to raid the bastille and secure the armament for the use of the people.”

“A coup! On the Bastille! You have gone mad Jean.”

“You know the distress that the people have been through Pierre. The King is already under suspicion of removing the third estate’s representation from the government. We are starving, the time to take action is now.”

“When will this take place?”

“Tomorrow, at the Rue St. Antoinne, outside the Bastille. I have to go and spread the word. Farewell Andre.”

He hastily left, as I wave to him goodbye. A coup, has he seriously gone mad. I look over to my sick wife. The Bastille houses many guns and food for the soldiers, if I can get some, I can sell it to provide food. I make my way to my bedroom. As I prepare myself to sleep, I think of Pierre’s words. He is right, how else can I support my wife in this kind of country. The country has been dominated by a weak and selfish leaders. The time for action is now.

*          *          *

The date is July 14, 1789. The warm morning in France is disturbed by a loud crackles of gunfire coming from the eastern side of the city. I rush outside to see what is happening. Thousands upon thousands of peasants are marching toward the Bastille.

“Join us, Andre!”

Pierre hands me a rusty musket. As we march towards the Bastille, I see dead countrymen with their bloodstained Phrygian cap riddle the streets. The crowds are chanting, “Viva La France.”

As we approach the eastern side of Paris, I see the menacing gray walls tower over the city, dominating the Parisian skylines. The hundred foot tower, shield the armory within. A multitude of citizens surround the wide moat, surrounding the complex, holding muskets and pitchforks calling for revolution.

“What is taking so long Pierre.”

He can barely hear me against the loud ambience of the crowds.

Governor Bernard René Jourdan of the prison has blockaded himself in.”

Boom! I hear the crackle of a cannon and see the emergence of smoke near the entrance.

The halt of people turn into a tsunami, flooding the entrance of the Bastille. I join them, engulfed by rage and vengeance, I see the furious people slaughter the royal guards. The guards volleyed a wall of bullets to us. Panicked, I threw myself to the side. I see the bodies of the mates who charged with me topple. But the rush couldn’t be halted. The outnumbered guards try to flee from the oncoming mob. Their fate was sealed. The revolution has begun.

 

 

 

Bibliography

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “National Assembly.” Encyclopædia Britannica,

Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 6 July 2017, www.britannica.com/topic/National-

Assembly-historical-French-parliament.

Goodwin, Albert, and Jeremy David Popkin. “Louis XVI.” Encyclopædia Britannica,       |———Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 17 Jan. 2019, www.britannica.com/biography/Louis-XVI.

“Robespierre .” The History Place – Great Speeches Collection: Maximilien Robespierre Speech    on the Festival of the Supreme Being, Great Speeches, 14 July 1794,                                                                                                                      %%#%www.historyplace.com/speeches/robespierre.htm.

Lewis, Gwynn, and Peter Quennell. Life in Revolutionary France. B.T. Batsford, 1972.

Davidson, Ian. The French Revolution: From Enlightenment to Tyranny. W W Norton & Co Inc, 2018.

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