Today is Bastille Day is the French National Holiday.
2012 Bastille day celebration in Paris
The military parade will start at 9am on the Champs Elysees, near Etoiles. It will go on until noon.
Fireworks will be launched at 10.30 pm from the Trocadero, near the Eiffel tower. The theme of the soundtrack is Disco so get ready for some interesting dance moves !
Watch Bastille Day 2012 Eiffel Tower Fireworks online
Visit us back, we'll post the link to watch on July 14th! The show will start at 10.30pm on July 14th (Paris Time).
In the meantime, discover the history, main characters and symbols of the French Revolution (1789).
The guillotine was a device used by the revolutionaries to execute their opponents by decapitation.
Before the Guillotine
Under the 'Ancien Regime' era, different devices were used to execute people. Depending on the crime the victim was accused of and the social cast it was from, the executioners used either the sword, the breaking wheel or the fire. However, the public opinion started to argue about these archaic methods and asked for a less painful solution.
The Guillotine, official execution device
The guillotine was invented by Joseph Ignace Guillotin, a professor of anatomy in Paris. In 1791, the newly formed National Assembly voted a law to use it as the new execution device. This method was considered more humane as the victim only felt a small breeze on his neck before his head was cut off.
The guillotine was heavily used during the reign of Terror with an estimated death toll range between 15000 and 40000. These killings were held in the "place de la revolution", the current "place de la Concorde" in Paris.
Guillotine on the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
Death Penalty abolished
The guillotine was used until 1977 in France and was definitely dismantled with the abolishment of the death penalty in 1981.
The French Revolution
The beginning of the French revolution
Louis XVI wearing a Phrygian cap, symbol of the revolutionaries (1792).
The storming of the Bastille was the symbol of the victory of the French people against the Monarchy. What started as a revolt became a Revolution that will change the face of France's policy for ever.
The National Guard was quickly formed, composed of more than 40,000 people directed by Lafayette. They adopted the tri-color rosettes as the new symbol of the Revolution. The White, the color of the Monarchy is encircled by the Blue and the Red, the colors of Paris. Those three colors are now the ones of the French flag.
Louis XVI had no choice but to accept his defeat. He arrived in Paris with La Fayette and was welcomed with a rosette, placed upon on his vest. Few Months later, Louis XVI will be executed.
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen
On August 26th, 1789 the National Assembly voted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, defining a set of individual and collective rights for all the people, regardless of their estate.
Many revolutionaries participated in the writing of this text, among them Robespierre, Mirabeau, Lafayette and Sieyes.
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (August 27th 1789).
The King had to sign this declaration which led to many further political and economic reforms that heavily diminished his own powers.
The King's eviction
On October 5th, 1789 Louis XVI was forced by a group of 4,000 rioters, mostly hungry women, to move out of Versailles and to take residence under the revolutionaries watch at the "Tuileries", in the heart of Paris.
In March 1790, Robespierre was elected president of the Jacobins club, one of the more radical movements of the new assembly, and became rapidly one of their most respected members.
The Varennes escape
Louis XVI Returns from Varennes
Louis XVI comes back in Paris after his escape in Varennes. Author: Jean Duplessi - Bertaux
Unwilling to stay prisoner of his own people in Paris, Louis XVI tried to flee to his wife's native country, Austria. On June 21st, 1791 Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and their children dressed as bakers and hit the road. But the rumors of the King's escape spread quickly across France and the royal refugees were recognized and captured few miles from the German border, in Varennes.
When they were returned to Paris, the population was all but sympathetic towards the traitors. Danton and Marat launch a campaign to end definitely the King's political power. They wanted to abolish the Constitutional Monarchy and start a new political era where all the power would be given to the Assembly.
On July 17th, 1791 people gathered in the Tuileries to support Danton. But the Assembly, especially Robespierre, considered that such a decision would put the revolution into peril and asked the National Guard to end this uprising. The Marquis de La Fayette and his men opened fire on the crowd and hundreds of people were killed. This event marked the first major discordance amongst the revolutionaries. Robespierre was accused by La Fayette of organizing this riot. He resigned from his position but gained a huge recognition from the French population.
The war with Austria
In April 1792, France entered in war with Austria. Joseph Rouget de Lisle sang the Marseillaise for the first time to encourage the French troops during the war. Later, this song became France's National Anthem.
Lots of tensions from military losses in the East of France pushed the parliament to propose some reforms and the King used the rest of his powers to veto some of them. People accused the King of willing to help his brother-in-law, the King of Germany, to defeat the French.
The rise of Robespierre
The tension was rising between the protectors of the king and the revolutionaries. In August 1792, Robespierre joined the "Commune de Paris", a strong revolutionary government formed after the storming of the Bastille. He presented a petition where he demanded that La Fayette should be dismissed and declared a traitor. The "accuse" started an exile in Eastern Europe.
On August 10th, 1792 the "Sans-Culotte", a group formed of Parisian rioters who wanted to protest against the aristocracy, helped by the newly formed "Commune insurrectionnelle de Paris", stormed the Tuileries. After 800 years of reign, and in a bath of blood, the Capetian Monarchy was defeated.
Three days later, Louis XVI was officially arrested and sent to prison. The King had a trial in front of the Convention which decided to send him to the Guillotine in January 1793. He was accused of High Treason and Crimes against the State.
The French Republic
On September 21st, 1792 the Convention succeed to the Assembly, France became a republic.
Execution of Louis XVI
Louis XVI Execution
Beheading of Louis XVI in Paris.
On January 21st, 1793 Louis XVI was executed by a Guillotine in front of the people of France who saluted his death as the beginning of what they believed to be a better era.
Thanks Foreverfan, but wheres the French Cat ?
We could use the guillotine today ... certainly cheaper and quicker then lethal injection! They know something those French!
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