BASTILLE, bas-ter (from med. Fr. bastir, to build), the French designation for an armory or fortified building constructed for military purposes. The word is popularly associated with the Bastille, or the state prison and citadel of Paris, built to protect the palace of Charles V against the incursions of the Burgundians, and destroyed by the mob in the beginning of the Revolution sn 1789, after an existence of over four centurieS. It was founded by Hugues d'Aubriot in 1369, and completed by the addi tion of four towers in 1383.
The building became notorious for imprison ment by lettres de cachet, or secret warrants issued in the natne of the king, but the names of the indiyiduals were inserted by the minis ters, who were the depositaries of these letters. Of the origin of this custom we may perhaps find the explanation in Montesquieu s (Espnt des Lois,' where it is said, (Honor is the virtue of monarchies, and often supplies its place A nobleman was unwilling to be dishonored by a member of his family. Filial disobedience and unworthy conduct were probably not more uncommon among the nobility of France than elsewhere. But in such cases fathers and re lations often requested the confinement of the offender until the head of the family should express a wish for his release. At first this privilege was limited to the chief families of the country. The next step was, that the ministers of government considered themselves entitled to the same privileges as heads crf families among the nobility. If an offense was committed in their offices or households, which, if lcnown, would have cast a shadow upon the ministers thernselves, they arrested, mot* proprio, the obnoxious individuals, and often made use of their privilege to put out of sight persons whose honest discharge of duty had excited their displeasure, or who were ac quainted with facts disgraceful to the ministers themselves. It sometimes happened that no further examination of the prisoners was held, and the cause of their detention nowhere re corded. In such cases an individual remained in prison sometimes 30 or 40 years or even till his death, because succeeding officers took it for granted that he had been properly con fined, or that his imprisonment was required for reasons of state. The invention of the lettres de cachet itrunediately opened the door to the tyranny of ministers and the intrigues of favorites, who supplied themselves with these orders, in order to confine individuals who had become obnoxious to them. These arrests be came continually more arbitrary, and men of the greatest merit were liable to be thrown. into
prison whenever they happened to displease a nunzster, a favorite or a mistress. On 14 July 1789 the Bastille was surrounded by a tumultu ous mob, who first attempted to negotiate with the governor, Delaunay, but when these negotia tions failed, began to attack the fortress. For several hours the mob continued their siege without being able to effect anything more than an entrance into the outer court of the Bastille; hut at last the arrival of some of the Royal Guard with a few pieces of artillery forced the governor to let down the second drawbridge and admit the populace. The governor was seized, but on the way to the hotel de ville was torn from his captors and put to death. The next day the destruction of the Bastille began, and a bronze column now marks its site. The event considered by itself was of no great national importance, but it marked the beg-in ning of the French Revolution.
Much exaggeration took place in relation to the discoveries said to be made in its demolition, especially in relation to one Count de Lorges; but it is sufficiently established that there was no such person in vdstence, certainly not in the Bastille. No exaggeration, however, was needed. Seven persons only were found in its cells and dtmgeons; one, the Count de
a prisoner since his 11th
the son of Paris Duverney, who after 10 years at the Isles Marguerites, had passed 30 years in the Bastille, and who re appeared on his
bewildered, with a broken
like a man awakened from a sleep of 40
to a world new compared with that on which he had closed his eyes. Records of horrors even worse than this were found inscribed on the registers of the prison. Two will suffice. They are the names of Father Theodore Fleurand, of Brandenburg, a Capu
retained many years on suspicion of be ing a spy; and of one
arrested at 76 and dead at 90
Nearly 50 years before Cag liostro scrawled on the walls of his cell: °The Bastille shall be
and the people shall dance on the area where it stood.n This
at least, of the empiric and impostor, was realized to the
It was the Car magnole which they danced about the liberty trees to the tune of the ica Ira.' Bibliography.— Bingham, D. A.,