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Storming of the Bastille (1789) By Jean-Pierre Houël
What was the Storming of the Bastille?
The Storming of the Bastille, the flashpoint of the French Revolution, occurred in Paris on July 14, 1789. A medieval armory, fortress, and political prison, the Bastille stood as a symbol of the monarchy placed at the heart of the city.
The Zero Theft Movement is working to eliminate the rigged parts of the economy so ethical businesses and American citizens can thrive. In this article, we will explore the Storming of the Bastille and see how it relates to the modern day U.S.
Background of the Storming of the Bastille
Leading up to the Storming of the Bastille, economic and social problems had been piling up. A hard winter in 1788 and an increased population had resulted in a nationwide famine. Moreover, France had accrued significant debt due to its participation in the Seven Years War (1756-1763) and the American Revolution (1775-1783). France was in a state of economic crisis.
These issues simply exacerbated the long-standing systemic inequities of the Ancien Régime, or Old Regime. French society was divided into three ‘Estates’: the First Estate of the Upper Clergy (~1% of the population), the Second Estate of the Nobility (~1%), and the Third Estate of the rest (~98%). Yes, just about anyone who did not come from a noble family comprised the Third Estate. The Third Estate had to pay the most taxes without any special social privileges. The King, as well as the First and Second Estates, lived lives of excess with those exploitative taxes.
Members of the First and Second Estates Hold Down the Third Estate with the Rock of Taxes
King Louis XVI announced a meeting with the Estates-General at Versailles, a first since 1614. Representatives of each Estate gathered and debated how France could claw itself out of its deep economic pit.
Finding the proceedings unfair, delegates from all three Estates branched off to form the National Assembly on 17 June, 1789. The contingent championed a representative government, a reformed tax system, an improved legal system, and the abolishment of the lettres de cachet (orders directly from the King that no one could appeal). They would take the Tennis Court Oath three days later, vowing to stick together until a Constitution was established.
Louis XVI opposed the development, but members of the First and Second Estates were joining the assembly. His hand forced, he ostensibly recognized the assembly. Nevertheless, he had designs to reclaim power, designs that would ironically end his reign.
The king made two grave errors that triggered the Storming of the Bastille:
- He ordered the royal troops to gather at Versailles, Sèvres, the Champ de Mars in south-west Paris, and Saint-Denis in the city’s north. The public interpreted this decision as a bid to impose martial law and retake control of the nation.
- He dismissed Jacques Necker, his popular finance minister, on July 11th. Many viewed him as a major proponent of reform. Several days of revolt ensued before revolutionaries decided to attack the Bastille, a prison for the upper class.
The Zero Theft Movement is a crowdfunded effort to fight against the rigged economy and crony capitalism with hard proof gathered through citizen-led investigation. As a distributed organization, we firmly adhere to our policy of one-citizen-one vote. Regardless of who you are, how much you donate, or what company you work for or represent, you get one vote per investigation.
The Zero Theft Movement does not have any interest in partisan politics/competition or attacking/defending one side. We seek to eradicate theft from the U.S economy. In other words, how the wealthy and powerful rig the system to steal money from us, the everyday citizen. We need to collectively fight against crony capitalism in order for us to all profit from an ethical economy.
Terms like ‘steal,’ ‘theft,’ and ‘crime’ will frequently appear throughout the article. Zero Theft will NOT adhere strictly to the legal definitions of these terms (since congress sells out). We have broadly and openly defined terms like ‘steal’ and ‘theft’ to refer to the rigged economy and other debated unethical acts that can cause citizens to lose out on money they deserve to keep.