views updated May 29 2018

Bastille a fortress in Paris built in the 14th century and used in the 17th–18th centuries as a state prison. Its storming by the mob on 14 July 1789 marked the start of the French Revolution; the anniversary of this event (Bastille Day) is kept as a national holiday in France.

The name comes (via Old French) from Provençal bastida, from bastir ‘build’.


views updated May 21 2018

Bastille Fortress and prison in Paris, built in the late 14th century and destroyed during the French Revolution. Political prisoners were incarcerated here, and it became a symbol of royal oppression. On July 14, 1789, now a national holiday in France, a revolutionary mob stormed it, captured the ammunition store and released its seven prisoners. The Bastille was pulled down soon afterwards.


views updated Jun 11 2018

1. As bastion (1).

2. Fortified tower.

3. Small fortress.

4. Name of the C14 Parisian prison-fortress destroyed in 1789, so synonymous with a gaol.