History: Bastille Day

Posted July 14, 2015 by Amanda | No Comment

Do you have French ancestry in your family tree? Today France celebrates Bastille Day to commemorate the storming of the notorious prison fortress.

Here are some interesting facts about the French holiday:

Bastille Day

  • On July 14, 1789, French revolutionaries stormed the medieval fortress that served as a symbol of the Bourbon monarchy’s tyranny. A few years later, King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, would be executed by guillotine.

Bastille Day

  • The event sparked the beginning of the French Revolution. The Revolution lasted from 1789 until 1799 and saw the abolition of the monarchy and the brief establishment of a republic. It was also a period of violence and political turmoil that would lead to Napoleon Bonaparte’s rise to power.

Bastille Day

  • The revolutionists didn’t exactly storm the Bastille to free political prisoners. The prison housed large quantities of arms and ammunition and they were very eager to get their hands on them.


  • At the time of the insurgence, the prison was nearly empty with only seven prisoners. Interestingly, the Marquis de Sade had been transferred out of the prison to an insane asylum only a few days earlier. The reason: he was reported to have shouted through his window, “They are massacring the prisoners – you must come and free them!”

Bastille Day

  • The holiday is also a commemoration of the Fête de la Fédération which took place on July 14, 1790 in honor of the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille and the unity of the French Nation. The day was celebrated with feasts and fireworks in honor of the people’s newfound freedom.

Bastille Day

  • In France, Bastille Day is formally called La Fête nationale (The National Celebration) and commonly Le quatorze juillet (the fourteenth of July). Celebrations are held throughout France, including the oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe.

Images: Wikimedia Commons

Post written by Amanda

Amanda is the Marketing Communications Manager at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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