The place is Paris. The year is 1789. The day is July 14. The hour is close on 3 in the afternoon. The weather is hot but partially cloudy, highs reaching the mid to upper 90s. A seething mob of poor, ignorant, and under-nourished peasants crowd the ancient gates. Like flies to a rotting carcass, they swarm around the fortress of God and King, towering above them. Thirty-two Salis-Samade under Captain Deflue are certainly no match for the siege. A small mob attack, perhaps. But not this. For the first time, Le Marquis de Launay fears for his comfortable and well-sheltered life. The rabble will not be put down. They will not suffer under the seeming tyranny of an oppressive and overbearing government any longer!
A huge throng of the French National Guard now give up their posts to join the mob. Their numbers reach into the hundreds. The crowd is egged on by Pierre-Augustin Hulin, the Queen's laundry director. They are egged on by starvation. They are egged on by the rumours of government attack. They succeed in breaking into the arsenal and first courtyard. They hotly demand that the bridges be lowered. They are refused! De Launay sends a message to Hulin, threatening to blow the Bastille and everyone within its massive walls to Kingdom Come. A mere 20,000 pounds of gun-powder should do. The rabble shall not back down. There are prisoners within these walls, held captive by a tyrannical power! My God, 7 whole men! 7 prisoners! Oh, the torment of it all! The vicious brutality! And one of them is a mad Irishman who cries to these people, his Roman subjects, to save him, their Caesar! No! They will not let DeWhitt perish here. Nor Jean de la Corrége, or the Count of Solages! Neither shall Bernard Laroche or Tavernier spend their days in the dank cells of this fortress prison! They must be free, and De Launay must be punished!
At last, the bridges are lowered. De Launay and his handful of men surrender to the chaotic crowd. But this is not a merciful time. The soldiers are paraded through the streets, captives of the Mob. But this is not enough. De Launay and many of the others must lose their heads! Brutally severed off and placed on pikes, they march through the Parisian streets with their ghastly trophy. This is victory! Let this be the just reward for tyrants and oppressors! Let this be a sign to the extravagant monarch. The crowd finds its way to the Hotel de Ville, next stop, Versailles! A bàs les aristos!
La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt rushes in breathlessly to inform His Majesty.
"Is this a revolt?" Louis asks.
"No, Sire, it is a Revolution."