| Photo Credit |
July 14th is a very special day for all of us here at Bullet Blues – Bastille Day! Like the voyage of the Hermione, Bastille Day represents not only the fierce, independent spirit of the French people and the origins of France as a modern country, but of the unique relationship between the United States and France and the roles each nation had in each other’s fight for independence.
Storming of the Bastille by Jean-Pierre-Louis-Larent Houel (via Wikimedia Commons)
Inspired by the success of the American Revolution and alarmed by the economic crisis in France (caused in part by France’s participation in the American Revolution), the failure of the Third Estate and the National Assembly to create a French constitution, and the dismissal of one of the commoner’s biggest supporters, finance minister Jacques Necker, from King Louis XVI’s court, the commoners of Paris began to rally and protest outside of palaces and gathering places in Paris on July 11th, 1989. As the protests escalated, establishments that sold food, wine, and gunpowder were looted and the commoners began to horde supplies in a local church and build barricades in the streets.
By the morning of July 14, 1789, the city of Paris was in chaos, and the people of Paris had managed to loot 30,000 guns from the Hotel des Invalides, but without ammunition or gunpowder. The commoners, seeking to arm themselves, turned their attention to the Bastille, a prison in the heart of Paris that represented the royalty’s power. Nearly a thousand commoners stormed the very unarmed prison, and by the afternoon had arrested and executed the governor of the prison. Emboldened by their success, they stormed the streets of Paris, demanding the execution of Paris’s mayor.
When news of the storming of Bastille and the execution of his governors reached King Louis XVI, he withdrew his military forces from the city and elected a new mayor of Paris who was sympathetic to the commoners and promised to recall Necker. By early August of that year, feudalism was abolished in France and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was authored.
Bastille Day Today
The Bastille Military Parade on the Champs-Élysées | Photo Credit: Isabelle Benoit |
Today, Bastille Day is celebrated in France as La Fete Nationale, or “the national celebration.” Bastille Day marks the beginning of the French Revolution and is considered by many to be a counterpart to Independence Day in the United States. In Paris, citizens celebrate by watching the Bastille Military Parade on the Champs-Élysées, which has occured nearly every year since 1880, and watch fireworks at night. Many citizens have barbecues or other outdoor celebrations, similarly to Independence day here in the USA.
These similarities only reinforce what we believe deeply here at Bullet Blues – that the French and American people are not only deeply intertwined by their spirit of independence, but by their traditions as well.
Bullet Blues owner and designer Isabelle Benoit poses with a soldier on Bastille Day | Photo Credit: Isabelle Benoit |