July 14, 2003

Bastille Day

Bastille Day

Posted by DeLong at July 14, 2003 03:01 PM | TrackBack

Comments

Here is my rather inadequate tribute on the day of truly great triumph for people power. Enjoy!

"http://www.jamesrmaclean.com/archives/000021.html#more"

Posted by: James R MacLean on July 14, 2003 04:25 PM

"Allons enfants de la patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrive.
Contre nous de la tyrannie
L'etendard sanglant est leve...
Aux armes, citoyens! Formez vos bataillons!
Marchons, marchons, qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons."
As sung in Casablanca.

Posted by: John Isbell on July 14, 2003 07:15 PM

Question: How many prisoners liberated from the Bastille? Approximately. Try to guess without looking it up.

Posted by: A. Zarkov on July 14, 2003 08:22 PM

Fifteen?

Posted by: Brad DeLong on July 14, 2003 08:57 PM

One.

And no, it wasn't Dr. Manet.

Posted by: James R MacLean on July 14, 2003 09:06 PM

A very good estimate. According to Simon Schama in his book “Citizens,” seven prisoners were liberated-- two lunatics, four forgers, and an aristocratic delinquent who had been committed with the Marquis De Sade (who left a week before the Bastille fell). Schama’s discussion in the section: “Buried Alive? Myths and Realities in the Bastille” is a real eye opener. Prisoners in the Bastille were actually treated better than in other French prisons, especially if you had been an aristocrat on the outside. The prison permitted inmates to bring in their own possessions, including dogs, cats, furniture, and books. The Marquis in particular made good use of these privileges, bringing in: a desk, a wardrobe, a necessaire, and a variety of shirts, silk breeches, frac coats, dressing gowns, boots, shoes, family portraits, tapestries, cushions, pillows and other stuff including a personal library of 133 books. In fact, the Bastille was a lot more comfortable than the prisons in our modern tyrannies. Even our “Club Fed” prisons in the US, that house our own aristocratic criminals, like Michael Milliken, are much more severe than most people would imagine. The only personal possession permitted is a wedding ring. No you can’t bring in your laptop, tennis racket and running shoes.

Posted by: A. zarkov on July 14, 2003 09:38 PM

Of course it doesn't matter in the least how many prisoners were released. The Bastille fell as a symbol of the Old Regime. Would anyone want to say anything other than, "Good riddance?"

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on July 14, 2003 10:28 PM

Yes, someone might say other than “good riddance” to the ancien regime. What replaced it? Terror. A revolution that consumed it’s own children, that eventually mutated into yet another monarchy. Moreover, the French Revolution became a model for future revolutions, and more terror. Do you think Lenin looked to the Anglo-Scottish enlightenment or the French Revolution for inspiration?

Posted by: A. Zarkov on July 14, 2003 10:48 PM

AZ: Yes, obviously the Terror was a bad thing. But I'm not convinced that the Terror was an inevitable consequence of the destruction of the Bastille. The Ancien Regime deserved to go, and the world is a better place without it.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on July 15, 2003 12:16 AM

"But I'm not convinced that the Terror was an inevitable consequence of the destruction of the Bastille. The Ancien Regime deserved to go, and the world is a better place without it."

I dunno about that. Schama's book will definately make a person read Burke a little more attentively, as well as be a little less tolerant of fanatics of any stripe.

Posted by: Russell L. Carter on July 15, 2003 08:06 AM

Was Bonapartism an improvement over the Ancien Regime?

Posted by: Will Allen on July 15, 2003 08:06 AM

Yes, certainly.

A Zarkow, you have to separate the '89 revolution and the '91 revolution.

Posted by: David Weman (Europundit) on July 15, 2003 09:38 AM

Not that '91 was that bad, one should also separate '91 from the Terror. Every phase of the revolutionary period except the Terror was better than the Ancien Regime.

Posted by: David Weman (Europundit) on July 15, 2003 09:49 AM

I LOVED Margaret Thatcher's comment on the 200th Anniversary of Bastille Day in 1989:

"It look us 200 years to get rid of the effects of the French Revolution. We don't want another one".

(Quoted from memory). God, I wish she were still there, rather than Bliar.

Posted by: PJ on July 15, 2003 09:56 AM

I get it, without the French revolution there would have been no communism. History sure is continuous. Duh.

Posted by: arthur on July 15, 2003 10:51 AM

A. Zarkov, if that's the message you got from Schama I think you didn't read him very carefully. I think Russell Carter is closer to the mark. It's a long book, with nuance that Carter reflects.
As someone who's published on the Revolution, I'll pretty much endorse what David Weman writes.
Bonapartism ended feudalism in a huge swathe of Europe, and that was a good thing. The dynasties came back in 1814, but the feudal system was largely broken.
One thing the Terror did was abolish slavery, possibly the first government to do so in history. Life's complicated, isn't it? They also killed a lot of people, and mainly peasants not aristocrats. For instance, they drowned them. The Terror finally put the metric system in place.

Posted by: John Isbell on July 15, 2003 05:30 PM
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