bastille


bastille
/ba steel"/; Fr. /banns tee"yeu/, n., pl. bastilles /ba steelz"/; Fr. /banns tee"yeu/.
1. (cap.) a fortress in Paris, used as a prison, built in the 14th century and destroyed July 14, 1789.
2. any prison or jail, esp. one conducted in a tyrannical way.
3. a fortified tower, as of a castle; a small fortress; citadel.
Also, bastile /ba steel"/.
[1350-1400; ME bastile < MF, prob. alter. of bastide BASTIDE, with -ile ( < ML, L -ile n. suffix of place) r. -ide; r. ME bastel < OF basstel, with -el similarly r. -ide]

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Medieval fortress in Paris that became a symbol of despotism.

In the 17th–18th centuries, the Bastille was used as a French state prison and a place of detention for important persons. On July 14, 1789, at the beginning of the French Revolution, an armed mob of Parisians captured the fortress and released its prisoners, a dramatic action that came to symbolize the end of the ancien régime. The Bastille was subsequently demolished by the Revolutionary government. Bastille Day (July 14) has been a French national holiday since 1880.

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▪ historical prison, Paris, France
 medieval fortress on the east side of Paris that became, in the 17th and 18th centuries, a French state prison and a place of detention for important persons charged with various offenses. The Bastille, stormed by an armed mob of Parisians in the opening days of the French Revolution, was a symbol of the despotism of the ruling Bourbon monarchy and held an important place in the ideology of the Revolution.

      With its eight towers, 100 feet (30 metres) high, linked by walls of equal height and surrounded by a moat more than 80 feet (24 metres) wide, the Bastille dominated Paris. The first stone was laid on April 22, 1370, on the orders of Charles V of France, who had it built as a bastide, or fortification (the name Bastille is a corruption of bastide), to protect his wall around Paris against English attack. The Bastille, in fact, was originally a fortified gate, but Charles VI turned it into an independent stronghold by walling up the openings. In 1557 its defensive system was completed on the eastern flank by the erection of a bastion. In the 17th century a transverse block was built, dividing the inner court into unequal parts.

      Cardinal de Richelieu was the first to use the Bastille as a state prison, in the 17th century; the yearly average number of prisoners was 40, interned by lettre de cachet (cachet, lettre de), a direct order of the king, from which there was no recourse. Prisoners included political troublemakers and individuals held at the request of their families, often to coerce a young member into obedience or to prevent a disreputable member from marring the family's name. Under Louis XIV the Bastille became a place of judicial detention in which the lieutenant de police could hold prisoners; under the regency of Philippe II, duc d'Orléans, persons being tried by the Parlement were also detained there. Imprisonment by lettre de cachet remained, however, in force, and prohibited books were also placed in the Bastille. The high cost of maintaining the building prompted talk of demolition in 1784.

      On the morning of July 14, 1789, when only seven prisoners were confined in the building, a crowd advanced on the Bastille with the intention of asking the prison governor, Bernard Jordan, marquis de Launay, to release the arms and munitions stored there. Angered by Launay's evasiveness, the people stormed and captured the place; this dramatic action came to symbolize the end of the ancien régime. The Bastille was subsequently demolished by order of the Revolutionary government.

       Bastille Day, celebrated annually on July 14, was chosen as a French national holiday in 1880.

Additional Reading
Jacques Godechot, The Taking of the Bastille, July 14th, 1789 (1970); Hans Jürgen Lüsebrink and Rolf Reichardt, The Bastille: A History of a Symbol of Despotism and Freedom (1997; originally published in German, 1990).

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • bastille — [ bastij ] n. f. • 1370; altér. de bastide ♦ Au Moyen Âge, Ouvrage de fortification, château fort. Spécialt La Bastille : le château fort commencé à Paris sous Charles V et qui servit de prison d État (⇒ embastiller) avant d être pris par les… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • bastillé — bastille [ bastij ] n. f. • 1370; altér. de bastide ♦ Au Moyen Âge, Ouvrage de fortification, château fort. Spécialt La Bastille : le château fort commencé à Paris sous Charles V et qui servit de prison d État (⇒ embastiller) avant d être pris… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • bastille — or bastile [bas tēl′] n. [ME bastile & Fr bastille, both < OFr bastille, altered < bastide < bastida < fem. pp. of bastir, build, orig., make with bast: see BASTE1] 1. in ancient warfare, a tower for defense or attack; small fortress… …   English World dictionary

  • Bastille — («Бастий»)  праздничные торжества в Санкт Петербурге, посвящённые Дню взятия Бастилии. Проводятся ежегодно, на территории пляжа архитектурного ансамбля «Петропавловская крепость», садах и парках Санкт Петербурга. В рамках торжеств проводятся …   Википедия

  • bastille — BASTILLE. s. f. On appeloit ainsi autrefois un Château ayant plusieurs tours proche l une de l autre; et ce nom est demeuré long temps à un Château construit ainsi à Paris, par le Roi Charles V, et qui depuis son règne a servi de prison d État.… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • bastille — BASTILLE. s. f. (l s se prononce.) On appelloit ainsi autrefois Un chasteau ayant plusieurs tours ramassées proche l une de l autre; & ce nom est demeuré à un chasteau basti de cette maniere dans Paris. Il est prisonnier à la bastille. On dit… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Bastille — (fr., spr. Bastillj), 1) mit Thürmen versehenes festes Schloß; bes. 2) das sonst zu Paris an der Porte St. Antoine gelegene, viereckige, feste Schloß, um 1370 von Aubriot gegen die Engländer begonnen, 1383 vollendet u. noch im 17. Jahrh. mit… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • bastillé — bastillé, ée (ba sti llé, llée, ll mouillées) adj. Terme de blason. Garni de créneaux renversés vers la pointe de l écu. HISTORIQUE    XVe s. •   Virent grand foison de naves, petites et grandes, bien bastillées, venir par devers Hainebon, FROISS …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • bastillé — BASTILLÉ, ÉE. adj. Il se dit en termes de Blason des pièces qui ont des créneaux renversés qui regardent la pointe de l écu. D argent au chef bastillé d or …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • Bastille — Nom porté dans les Deux Sèvres. Désigne celui qui est originaire d une localité appelée (la) Bastille (= ouvrage militaire isolé). Le toponyme est fréquent dans l Ouest, de la Normandie à la Charente. A noter en Vendée, où le nom de famille se… …   Noms de famille

  • Bastille — (izg. bastȉj) (Bastìlja) ž DEFINICIJA pov. srednjovjekovna tvrđava u istočnom Parizu; u 17. i 18. st. francuski državni zatvor, simbol despotizma bourbonske dinastije; jurišem, osvajanjem i rušenjem Bastille (14. 7. 1789) započela Francuska… …   Hrvatski jezični portal


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