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Facts about Bastille Fortress for Kids

The Bastille was an ancient institution in Paris, France, that was the scene of much turmoil over the years. It was eventually taken down and demolished to make way for newer buildings.

Today’s post is all about the Bastille; what it symbolized in French society, why it was so important to take it down, and more! Check out some of these interesting facts about this old building:

  • The first Bastille was built on a swampy ground with a hidden underground channel going right beneath its foundations.
  • The site of Normandy today used to be a medieval structure called “La Pucelle”.
  • The oldest Bastille was not the first but the third one.
  • The first Bastille was ordered to be built by Charles V in 1369.
  • It was destroyed during the Hundred Years’ War, only to be rebuilt again after several years of peace.
  • One of the prisoners held in this ancient prison was Louis XVI’s uncle Philippe Egalite, who was imprisoned for 3 years for plotting against his brother, Louis XVI.
  • It was on that fateful day on 14 July 1789 that this ancient institution met its end. A tearful crowd watched as over 7,000 heavily armed soldiers entered the building and used every means possible to bring it down.
  • There is a museum named after the Bastille in Paris, France. This museum has a collection of objects from the time of the Bastille – from weapons to furniture – and a massive statue of the ‘monster’ that over 1,400 people were put into.
  • A plaque on a wall of this museum reads: “1789 – 1394 – 1794 – 1793”. This plaque refers to the dates of construction and destruction of each Bastille during its history.
  • There was an old Catholic church built on top of the old prison foundation before it was demolished. The church was built in the 17th century and used to have a statue of William the Conqueror on top of the spire.
  • While this building was being built, thousands of men worked here. Their job was to dig out soil from underneath the prison grounds so that it would keep pace with the construction.
  • The French Revolution shook this ancient institution beyond its foundations. A large number of prisoners were sent here after being accused for their beliefs, but were later released.
  • On 14 July 1789, 90 women disguised as men climbed into this building and took over control by disarming the guards stationed inside.
  • Although the Bastille was eventually taken down, it is often used as a metaphor for something that is old and outdated, especially if it has stood the test of time. It was usually used in novels and films to symbolize how traditions are stubbornly defended even after their time has passed.
  • The word ‘Bastille’ comes from ‘bastet’, or Egyptian cat goddess.
  • The last person to leave the Bastille through the actual prison exit was Hébert, who was being held for publishing anti-government caricatures.
  • The last person to leave this building via the main gate was Madame Élisabeth at 8:15pm on 27 July 1789.