Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Bastille (old French bastir, batir, to build), in mediaeval France, a general term for a strong fortress, but the name was specially applied to the fortress in Paris at the Porte St. Antoine, built between 1370 and 1383, and afterwards used as a prison. The inmates were principally state prisoners, either awaiting trial or merely confined without trial during the king's pleasure, by lettres de cachet, often, in reality, for reasons of private enmity. At the outbreak of the French revolution on July 14th, 1789, it was stormed by the populace, assisted by some troops with field-pieces who had fraternised with them, and was destroyed next day. The event is now commemorated by a bronze column on its site, surmounted by a gilt statue of Memory spreading her wings as though to fly away, and inscribed with the names of 65 persons who took part in the assault, which may be regarded as the first event of the revolution.