by Jack Le Moine
Today is Bastille Day. This holiday commemorates the Paris mob storming the prison which was a symbol of repression under the royal regime.
They did this on July 14, 1789. A few days before, the King dismissed Jacques Necker, a minister who was sympathetic to The Revolution. The fear that this presaged an attack on the representatives sparked this assault.
The story of The Revolution is one of violence and persecution by the revolutionaries. It ended with Napoleon, Dictator and then Emperor. When did this revolution go wrong? When was the last moment it could have been saved? Before Robespierre and The Terror, of course. I think it went off the rails when the National Constituent Assembly passed The Civil Constitution of the Clergy on July 12, 1790. This made the Catholic Church a part of the government. This led to a whole host of evils. Anti-Christian attitudes from the left, persecution of Christians – especially during The Terror – and election of clergy led to a reaction from a large part of the population that would not otherwise have opposed The Revolution. The unrest led to more repressive measures from the revolutionaries.
The even more basic problem was the revolutionaries’ attitude of dismissing the concerns of vast groups of the French people. This was the cause of The Revolution going off the rails and the point when it happened.
Further information on: Bastille Day.