Bastille Day


Score one for the common people. The Bastille was a medieval fortress in Paris, built to protect the eastern side of the city during the Hundred Years war. It later became a prison used by the monarchy to jail those who ran afoul of the ruling class, and so it also became a symbol of repression.

Some years after the American Revolution, with the upper classes controlling every part of society, the French economy lay in shambles. A crushing national debt made tax rates onerous. Unsympathetic leaders turned a deaf ear to the underprivileged. Food shortages added to the general misery, and by July 14th, 1789, the French citizenry had enough of the ruling elites.

In an attempt to gain weapons and free what was thought to be large numbers of political prisoners, a revolutionary-minded crowd successfully battered down the drawbridge. Inside, they found only a handful of convicts, but no matter. The storming of the Bastille began the French Revolution, an act that eventually resulted in the collapse of feudalism and monarchical rule all over Europe. Liberté! Egalité! Fraternité!

Watercolors on rough paper, with some digital retouching, mainly to correct drawing mistakes.

3 thoughts on “Bastille Day

  1. You could always Google it, or as the French say … “Google”.

    The literal translation is “It (that) is true, my friends” depending on context. Idiomatically it would mean “How true, guys.” or to put it in colloquial Californian “Righteous, dudes!”

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