Julia Spiers, a Paris-based artist, created the illustration for today’s Google Doodle honouring Bastille Day, also known as la Fête de la Fédération (Festival of the Federation) and le Quatorze Juillet (14th of July) in France. The French Revolution was launched on this day in 1789 when French citizens stormed the Bastille, a royal prison castle and political symbol.
The 1780s saw chaos and unrest throughout France, which was ruled by King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Louis XVI inherited a massive debt from his predecessor and spent lavishly despite the impending financial disaster. To make matters worse, agricultural shortages led to a national famine and unemployment was at an all-time high. Marie Antoinette is reported to have responded to these problems by saying, “Let them eat cake!” showing how out of touch she was with the general populace.
Even though the Bastille only held seven prisoners, a mob made their way there early on July 14th. By afternoon, French inmates stormed the prison with the help of a few French guards who supported the uprising. The French First Republic came into being a short while later, in 1793.
The Festival of the Federation was a celebration held by French citizens in 1790 to mark the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille. The French government declared July 14th a public holiday in 1880.
The three foundations of the French Republic—Freedom, Equality, and Brotherhood—are symbolised by the colours of the flag. The nation-wide celebration of Bastille Day, which honours the French people’s struggle against oppression, includes military parades, free concerts, and aeroplane flyovers. Each year, a stunning fireworks display is also shown on the Champ de Mars, close to the Eiffel Tower.
Happy 14th July and have a wonderful holiday!