Fighting for freedom: the storming of the Bastille and the French Revolution

The French Revolution of 1789 ushered in over half a century of civil insurrection in Europe and around the world, culminating in a second great year of revolutions in 1848. David  Andress and Mike  Rapport, who have written books on these respective years, chart the course of the uprisings and explain what the fight was for

A contemporary illustration of the Storming of the Bastille, 14 July 1789 – an event that helped create the idea of 'revolution' as we know it today. (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

David Andress explains how the events of 1789 were an attempt to strip society of the inequalities of privilege, at a time when ‘freedom’ had a very confused meaning

The medieval fortress-prison of the Bastille loomed over eastern Paris. For centuries the enemies and victims of royal power had been carried there in shuttered coaches, and rumours ran of unspeakable tortures in its dungeons. On 14 July 1789 Parisians stormed the fortress, their rage against aristocratic enemies they thought ready to destroy the city to save their privilege driving some to suicidal bravery.

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