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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.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Bastille, visit Britannica.com.
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