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14 July When French Bastille Forever Fall
Place de la Bastille today (from Paris.fr)
In 1880 July 14, the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille in Paris, was designated as France’s national holiday. Since then, the French have been reviving it annually as a tribute to the founding fathers of the republic with whom the principles of the constitution and human rights were crystallized. In order for their memory to remain alive, generation after generation, it pulsates with the goals of their great revolution, which took place in the late eighteenth century to change the logic of history.
Usually, National Day celebrations take on a carnival rite of hustle and bustle. Thousands of French and tourists gather on the Champs-Elysees in Paris alongside the President of the Republic, watching with pride the military parades of 4,000 soldiers, starting from the Place Charles de Gaulle, where the Unknown Soldier was erected, all the way to the Place de la Concorde.
But this year, the French are very sad, as with the health measures taken due to the spread of the Corona virus, the celebration is losing its spirit and bustle. Those invited to the Place de la Concorde are from families who lost one of their members while performing his duty in the face of the spread of the epidemic threat, whether he was a nurse, a doctor or a civil defense worker. The celebration is limited to thanking those soldiers who faced with great courage and are still today facing the virus on French soil. Knowing that health ministers were invited from four countries that received French patients, namely Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Luxembourg.
Instead of military parades on the ground, planes hover over Paris and perform festive parades. Mass crowds will be replaced by television coverage cameras. While about 5,000 people used to gather annually in every city in France to watch the celebrations of the National Day, today it is forbidden to gather, even for dozens.
To understand the meaning and importance of National Day for the French, it is necessary to go back nearly three centuries, specifically to the era described by the British writer Charles Dickens in the opening of his novel “A Tale of Two Cities,” whose events, most of which are in France, precede the revolution by years.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. It was the age of faith, it was the age of ingratitude. It was the time of light, it was the time of darkness. It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despondency. We were all going straight to Heaven, and we were all going straight to Hell. In short, that period was similar to ours, to the extent that some of its most vocal historians insisted on describing it, whether in good or bad, in superlative and nothing else.
In these terms, Dickens describes an era in which the causes of life and death were equal, and in which fear became a companion to hope for survival and liberation, and where the dream that resulted in the French Revolution in 1789 was a victory for man and a report on his rights as he had never known before.
Before the revolution, the French lived through oppression in all its forms. They experienced hunger, brutality, and oppression. He mentions one of the main and direct reasons for the outbreak of the revolution, the attempt of the Louis XVI government to bridge the economic deficit resulting from its irresponsible decisions and practices, by imposing a set of taxes on the common people, who are 98 percent of the population, while allowing those with influence and power whose percentage did not exceed 2 Only percent, by default.
This class differentiation was not only in taxes, the monarchy relied in order to impose its sovereignty and power on the policy of differentiation between the three classes that made up French society and had their representatives in the House of Representatives of that era: (the nobles, the clergy or the clergy, and the common people). . The positions were granted to the owners of the first and second classes, while the sons of the third class were sentenced to work and service for life.
As for repression and oppression, there is nothing wrong with it. The idea that the French lived for decades under the rule of the guillotine in a constant spectacle of terror intolerable to humans is enough for a thousand revolutions to take place in place of the revolution. It is a scene described by Dickens in the same novel, when he wrote: “In the streets of Paris the death wagons drove in a low, deep, harsh rumble. Sett’s chariots carried the daily wine to the guillotine. Indeed, all the voracious predatory ghouls that man has imagined since the beginning of the imagination have been It was dissolved and emptied into this singular act: the guillotine.
A terrible accumulation of years of oppression led to a popular mobilization that reached its climax on July 14, 1789, when revolutionaries went to the Bastille and freed the prisoners who were inside. Since that time, history has changed, and it tended to apply the words of the French thinker and philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (liberty, equality, fraternity) that continue to this day as a slogan governing the state of France and its citizens, both French and non-French.
“It was an impossible thing, an insane thing, a strange thing to say. And yet all people believed in it, and it came true.” This was confirmed by historian Jules Michelet in his book “The French Revolution” about the night of the fall of the Bastille, in which he described the sky of Paris, saying: “On the evening of July 13, its sky was still full of doubts. On the morning of July 14, it had no more doubts. In the evening there was turmoil. And in the morning there was a terrible serenity”.
A Revolution Against Hunger And For Enlightenment
Enlightenment thought in that period of history, went hand in hand with the rule of the guillotine, and in many cases it wrestled with it and unfortunately defeated before it. A large group of historians who have dealt with the events of the French Revolution indicate that the French thinkers and philosophers had prepared for it for many years, spreading their enlightenment ideas among the people. The revolution was not only an uprising of the hungry, it was carried out by people who revolted for their dignity and their right to a free and dignified life.
From Montesquieu, who published his vision of the judicial power to be separated from the legislative and executive powers, to Voltaire, who advocated the importance of social equality and the abolition of autocracy and the distribution of power to delegates from among the people, to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who did not hide his constant calls for democracy and the rule of the people themselves. And he is the one who said in his social contract, “When people can vary in strength and intelligence, they are equal in terms of covenant and right.” He even lived his last days of life, pursued by the French authorities.
As with all revolutions, the French Revolution has attracted the great interest of historians, who have studied its events very carefully. Some of them supported and sanctified it, describing it as the greatest revolution, and some of them saw that psychological and media workers played a significant role in documenting it and giving it more than its size. Some, including the French historian Claude Kittel, have even underestimated her most important achievements; They underestimated the fall of the impregnable Bastille, ignoring the fact that he was a prisoner who held in his cells enlightened politicians and intellectuals. In short, it is a prison in which criminals who commit crimes of theft, trespass, and so on lie.
But those may have forgotten that Voltaire was one of the detainees who were held in the Bastille more than once and for varying periods because of his opinions, which prompted him, after leaving the prison for the first time, to leave France for England. When he returned to France again, he was imprisoned in the Bastille for writing a collection of “philosophical letters”, which Adel Zuaiter mentioned in his translation into Arabic as a sincere campaign against France’s systems, nature and political literature in the era of Voltaire, and it was one of the most powerful factors in igniting and directing the French Revolution in many ways.
The Vicissitudes Of The Revolution
In his book “The French Revolution“, Louis Awad tried to address the causes and consequences of the uprising: “In 1789, the population of France was about 27 million, of whom 5 million lived in cities and about 22 million lived in the countryside. Their revolution was not just a revolution. Rather, it was a basis for canceling the feudal privileges enjoyed by the nobles and the clergy. Their revolution succeeded when the National Assembly decided to abolish the feudal privileges in the session of August 4 (August) 1789.
The contagion of the revolution spread from Paris to all French cities, and it achieved results no less important than the results of the Paris revolution. On August 26 of the same year, the Charter of Human and Citizen Rights was proclaimed, declaring the fall of the old regime. The first clause in it was: “People are born and always remain free and equal in rights. Accordingly, civil privileges can only be built on the public benefit”.
The French Revolution can be divided into three stages, the first starting from the moment of the fall of the Bastille to the year 1792, in which the constitutional monarchy was applied, where the privileges of the king in absolute rule were abolished. The second phase extends from the end of the first to the year 1794, during which a republican regime was announced and the king was executed.
As for the third stage, which stopped when Napoleon Bonaparte came to power in 1799, it can be described as witnessing the emergence of the bourgeoisie that eliminated the revolutionaries.
And the book “The Spirit of Revolutions and the French Revolution” by Gustave Le Bon indicates that faith in the monarchy lasted after the seizure of the Bastille, after the king’s escape and his agreement with foreign kings, and later after his arrest and execution due to a number of charges, including his statement that he left on the day of his escape declaring his adherence to absolute rule. With the old system. He asserts that the consolidation of royal sentiments in the souls of many cities in France, with the exception of Paris, of course, contributed to the success of Napoleon Bonaparte, who came to seize the throne of the former kings, and restore a large part of the previous regime.
However, regardless of the fluctuations that occurred in the stages of the French Revolution and its aftermath, this uprising was able to abolish the dictatorial rule in France forever, replacing it with a republican, civil and secular regime that respects human rights and is based on the principles of freedom, equality and fraternity.
Today, the Place de la Bastille in Paris, free of its horrific prison, testifies that the French people deserve the life they live now and here, a life without fear and without scissors.