Daniel L. Gordon — Cross-Disciplinary Honors in French & History
The Resilient, Enduring Contradiction: the Symbolization of the Bastille de Paris
The Bastille that loomed over the Fausbourgh quarter of Paris on July 14, 1789 was hardly the imposing bastion of despotism or the black hole into which innocent men of the enlightenment were cast by the hands of the despotic Bourbon monarchy that writers like Linguet, Latude, and Voltaire had painted the devil fortress to be. The Bastille was, in fact, a poorly supplied, badly commanded shell of a fortress whose garrison was simply not expected to fight with any dedication or ferocity. The 14th of July would, nevertheless, come to constitute the cornerstone of French national identity when the date was selected to play host to the Fête de la Fédération – the glorious and triumphant ending to the equally glorious and successful First French Revolution – in which, for the first time, citizens spontaneously and organically united behind the ideas of liberté, egalité, et fraternité that would come to be the rallying point of later revolutions.