Bastille Day

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July 14, a national holiday of the French republic, commemorating the fall of the Bastille in 1789.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is Bastille Day?

Bastille Day is a French national holiday commemorating the storming of the Bastille in 1789 during the French Revolution.

The Bastille was a royal prison in Paris known for holding political prisoners.

Bastille Day is typically considered the most important national holiday in France. It marks the storming of the Bastille but more generally celebrates the French Revolution, the end of the absolute monarchy and the system of aristocracy, and the establishment of France as a republic.

Bastille Day is traditionally celebrated with parades and fireworks.

When is Bastille Day?

Bastille Day is celebrated each year on July 14, the anniversary of the day that French citizens stormed the Bastille in 1789.

More information and context on Bastille Day

The Bastille was originally a military fortress. It was built in the 1300s during the Hundred Years’ War to protect Paris, but it eventually became a prison for political prisoners, who were often imprisoned without a trial.

The French Revolution began in 1789 after King Louis XVI convened the French parliament to attempt to deal with the enormous national debt. When the common people’s division of the parliament declared itself the true legislature of France, Louis resisted the move, and a crowd reacted by surrounding the Bastille, which was viewed as a symbol of royal oppression. Eventually, they forced their way inside.

A constitutional monarchy was adopted, but Louis and his queen, Marie Antoinette, tried to flee the country. They were arrested, tried for treason, and executed on the guillotine. Control of the government passed to Robespierre and the party known as the Jacobins, who executed thousands of French nobles during a period that became known as the Reign of Terror. Eventually, Robespierre himself was executed, and a new ruling body, called the Directory, came into power. Napoleon Bonaparte took control in 1799, ending the revolution and eventually becoming emperor.

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How is Bastille Day discussed in real life?

In France, Bastille Day is traditionally seen as the most important national holiday. It’s usually celebrated in patriotic ways.


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Bastille Day commemorates the end of the French Revolution.

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British Dictionary definitions for Bastille Day

Bastille Day

(in France) an annual holiday on July 14, commemorating the fall of the Bastille
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012