July 14, 2004

Happy Bastille Day!

Today, in 1789, French Peasants who were "so poor, [they] cannot even afford [their] own language... all [they] have is this stupid accent", stormed the Bastille. I, for one, pledge to honor their bravery by watching my copy of History of the World, Part I, to relive this moment in world history, as it was faithfully recorded by the noted historian and auteur, Dr. Mel Brooks.

If, sticklers that you are, you are not persuaded by the interpretation of Monsieur Brooks, I give you the patriotic pablum put forward by the French Government.

But above all, Bastille Day, or the Fourteenth of July, is the symbol of the end of the monarchy and the beginning of the Republic. The national holiday is a time when all citizens celebrate their membership to a republican nation. It is because this national holiday is rooted in the history of the birth of the Republic that it has such great significance.

On May 5, 1789, the King convened the Estates General to hear their complaints, but the assembly of the Third Estate, representing the citizens of the town, soon broke away and formed the Constituent National Assembly.

On June 20, 1789, the deputies of the Third Estate took the oath of the Jeu de Paume "to not separate until the Constitution had been established." The Deputies' opposition was echoed by public opinion. The people of Paris rose up and decided to march on the Bastille, a state prison that symbolized the absolutism and arbitrariness of the Ancien Regime.

The storming of the Bastille, on July 14, 1789, immediately became a symbol of historical dimensions; it was proof that power no longer resided in the King or in God, but in the people, in accordance with the theories developed by the Philosophes of the 18th century.

On July 16, the King recognized the tricolor cockade: the Revolution had succeeded.

For all citizens of France, the storming of the Bastille symbolizes, liberty, democracy and the struggle against all forms of oppression.

What did the French version leave out? The heroic storming of the prison freed some 7 lightly guarded prisoners, including the Marquis de Sade. Oh yeah, nothing about the horrific terror and abuses which broke out after the Revolution had succeeded. More on that on another day, me thinks.

In an event, on a lighter note:

More in the category of making people feel good, I note that on today in 1906 was born Tom Carvel, founder of Carvel Ice Cream. Also today, in 1832, opium was exempted from federal tariff duty.

Soft serve ice cream and duty free opium, all in the same day. Is this country great or what!?!

Posted by Random Penseur at July 14, 2004 02:22 PM

Liberty, Fraternity & Cookie Puss for all!

Posted by: Mark C N Sullivan at July 14, 2004 02:31 PM

I think I'll celebrate the day w/ a Fudgy the Whale made entirely out of opium.

Posted by: tony c at July 14, 2004 04:14 PM

Of course the Republic led directly to the opressive regime of Emperor Bonaparte so I'm not really sure that it's all they crack it up to be.

Posted by: Jim at July 14, 2004 04:26 PM

The Emperor might have been a little less busy if he'd have taken the time to chill with a little opium ice cream cake.

That said, I don't disagree that the French may overstate the nature of their revolution.

Posted by: RP at July 14, 2004 04:39 PM
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