The French Revolution and The Napoleonic Wars
Wikipedia has some relevant stuff here, here and here. Note that if you’re interested in the history of France, Wikipedia has a ‘History of France series’ with lots of other stuff (see the sidebar in the article on the French Revolution).
Khan Academy has a lot of good stuff on the subject too, I’ve decided to post some of the videos here:
A comment before I move on to the Napoleonic Wars: Something I didn’t know anything about was that even though the Bastille did work as a political prison at the time, the prisoners really were nowhere near the main reason for storming it – the protesters stormed it to get hold of the weapons stored inside:
“On the morning of 14 July 1789, the city of Paris was in a state of alarm. The demonstrators, led by Amaria Cahila of the third estate in France, had earlier stormed the Hôtel des Invalides to gather arms (29,000 to 32,000 muskets, but without powder or shot), and were mainly seeking to acquire the large quantities of arms and ammunition stored at the Bastille. On the 14th there were over 13,600 kilograms (30,000 lb) of gunpowder stored there.
At this point, the Bastille was nearly empty of prisoners, housing only seven old men annoyed by all the disturbance: four forgers, two “lunatics” and one “deviant” aristocrat, the comte de Solages (the Marquis de Sade had been transferred out ten days earlier). The cost of maintaining a medieval fortress and garrison for so limited a purpose had led to a decision being taken to close it, shortly before the disturbances began. It was, however, a symbol of royal tyranny.”
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