France Celebrates The 220th Anniversary Of The Revolution


Two-hundred-and-twenty years later, the French street can be just as unruly and explosive. The night ahead of Bastille’s day was marked by wide spread vandalism as 317 cars were burned across France. In the last few years, clashes between disenfranchised French youths and the police have become a new tradition for Bastille Day. It is also a reminder for any French politicians that the French people can still take matter in their own hands, sometime violently, at any given time.

Bastille Day is the anniversary of July 14, 1789. It marks the beginning of the French Revolution, when a revolutionary mob stormed the prison of La Bastille setting in motion an unstoppable chain of events that would ultimately overthrow France’s absolute monarchy and have a wide impact on world events. Arguably, the French Revolution made the 1917 Russian Revolution possible.

The Revolution of 1789 marked the very first time in world history when the masses took power in their own hands, challenging a ruling elite by violent means while developing a  complex, defined and well articulated ideology. Overthrowing the incompetent King, Louis XVI, was soon not enough for the French revolutionaries. They went after the complete ruling class; namely the aristocracy and the Catholic church. A few extraordinary leaders emerged quickly notably Danton, Mirabeau, St Just & Robespierre. The latest, Robespierre, took over and imposed a reign of terror in 1791 literally drenching French public squares with the blood of the French aristocracy and clergy.

Europeans monarchs formed an alliance to combat what they saw, for good reasons, as an existential threat to their own power, the French quickly mobilized in what was at first not much more than a rag tag army of peasants. However, after numerous military set backs, the Revolutionary French Army defeated the alliance in the battle of Valmy in 1792. A gifted 26 years old Corsican Colonel prevented the British Navy from invading France in the siege of  Toulon: His name was Napoleon Bonaparte.


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