Paris Pages

Bastille column, spirit of liberty

On the left and right the Bastille column and the Spirit of Liberty on the top of the column in Place de la Bastille, which is on the border of the 4th, 11th and 12th arrondissements.

The Bastille was a fortress with eight towers built in the 14th century to fend off the English whose pastime was to attack Paris from the east when they had nothing better to do. Today pink cobblestones outline the location of the Bastille in Place de la Bastille.

In the 17th and 18th centuries the Bastille had become a prison of luxury, providing the prisoner had money. Prisoners were allowed their own furniture, servants, wine, food, and were even allowed to entertain guests. The Man in the Iron Mask, Voltaire and the Marquis de Sade were all prisoners at one time.

The Man in the Iron Mask was a prisoner from 1698 0 1703. No-one knew his identity, nor why he was imprisoned. He was brought to the Bastille at night, and was wearing a black velvet mask, not iron.

However when the Bastille was stormed at the start of the revolution there were only seven prisoners - four forgers, an accomplice to an attempted murder, a count who had committed incest and was held at his family's request, and a madman. Ten days previously the Marquis de Sade had been transferred out of the Bastille and into an asylum.

Bastille column
small arrondissment map of Paris
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