July 14: Allons enfants de la patrie (Let’s go children of the fatherland)… it is time to celebrate!
– “Is this a revolt?” asked Louis XVI to the Duque of Rochefoucauld, to which he replied:
– “No Sire, this is a revolution.”
One of King Louis XVI’s most trusted counsellor pronounced those ominous words on July 12, 1789. Two days later, the royal fortress of Bastille — a symbol of despotism — was attacked.
The tide of patriotic fervour led to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. “Men are born free and remain free and equal in rights.” Nations around the world modelled their bill of rights after this now universal sentence. No wonder France’s national holiday, lequatorze juillet*, is world famous.
Every year, since 1880*, Bastille Day’s notoriety is matched by festivities and pomp honouring the republic to the rhythm of the national anthem La Marseillaise.