"Storm at the Bastille Leads to
Calm in France" by Jeff Provine
says: we're very pleased to present the eleventh story from Jeff
Provine's excellent blog
This Day in
Alternate History Please note that the opinions expressed in this post
do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).
July 14th 1789,
for two days since the dismissal of Jacques Necker, the Third Estate had
been on the warpath through Paris. Soldiers (many of whom were foreign)
had been organized in Versailles by the king, which only increased
stresses with peasants fearful of a mercenary force enslaving the people
in their own land.
After the Gardes Franšaises infantry had sided with the rebellious
populace, the nobility did not know whether to trust the rest of the
soldiers. They left Paris to boil in its own juices, which would only
allow leaders to rise to the top.
Rioters became organized, and the people began to plunder stores of food,
guns, and ammunition. Some 30,000 muskets were seized the Hotel des
Invalides, and more than 600 rebels now headed for the Bastille, a large
medieval fortress used as a prison, often known for its duties as a
political prison. At the time, there were only seven inmates, and it was
scheduled to be shut down as overly costly in the tough economic times.
Mainly, it was used as storage for gunpowder.
"Calm in France would have been good for many but
the the French Revolution and the Napoleanic reign i.e. to the end of the
reign of kings and the development of modern Europe. The Napoleanic wars
also ensure that England was unable to recapture the thirteen colonies.
Many of the great wars were fought because the status quo were resistent
to change" - reader's commentEighty-two invalides (wounded veteran
soldiers) served as the garrison, and they had been reinforced by 32
Swiss. Attackers arrived at mid-morning, calling for surrender.
Negotiations began, but the crowd rioted after hours of waiting and began
to storm the fortress. When the gunfire began, the already mad mob turned
madder in a seemingly unending onslaught. Mutinous soldiers and deserters
joined in the fight on the side of the populace, adding skill to the
weight of the attack, only lengthening the ordeal. Governor de Launay,
commander of the Bastille, began to suspect complete massacre and then to
contemplate surrender to spare the lives of his men as well as the poorly
armed people they cut down.
In late afternoon, the order finally went out to the Royal Army on the
Champs de Mars to intervene. Soldiers formed ranks and marched against the
rioting people, and the bloodbath was ended. Seeing that troops were still
willing to carry out commands, the king called for order in the streets,
and the soldiers at Versailles were put to organize curfew and end the
On the morning of July 15, the air in Paris was clear. People returned to
their homes, taking the Bastille as a symbol of the fastidiousness of the
royal order. The king set about clearing the National Assembly and forcing
the Estates General into solving the country's dire financial situation.
He threatened to remove the protection of his soldiers from estates in the
countryside of uncooperative nobles, which would allow the Third Estate to
loot as they pleased. Gradually, the country came back to order.
Through the next few decades of peace, Europe would grow and spread their
colonial powers. The United States of America would have a second war with
Britain over border disputes, and the mother country would take back its
wayward colonies in a brutal war. Though the experiment of republicanism
had failed, new ideals would cause of the 1848 revolutions, which weakened
the stranglehold of absolute monarchists but could not defeat it. As
technology flourished, the people became more educated and desirous of
justice, leading to the great upheaval of the Workers' Rising in 1899 that
would cause an end to nearly every kingdom and empire in Europe. The
resulting new social order would have its share of birth-pains, but fair
socialism would finally spread throughout the world.
says in reality, the order for intervention was never given, and the
soldiers at the Champs de Mars did nothing as the Bastille was taken by
revolutionaries. Governor de Launay would be executed along with several of
his guards, and the Storming of the Bastille would serve as a great rally
for the Third Estate, forcing the king to recognize the National Assembly
and dismiss his soldiers. While the Revolution would eventually lead to the
rise of Napoleon as an emperor, for the time, the French people had freed
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Jeff Provine, Guest Historian of
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