Friday, July 14, 2006

Bastille Day

The state of TIAH

July 14th, 2006

Alternate Historian's Note: Our thanks to everybody who gave due to our recent plea – the Academy's connection to the Internet is secure. We appreciate it sincerely, and will be emailing you personal replies shortly. Now, on to our alternate Bastille Day!

in 1789, Louis Capet, a peasant who claimed to be of royal lineage, led a mob of enraged Parisians to the Bastille, a fortress in Paris, in order to gain ammunition to strike against the government of Premiere Citoyen Jacques Necker, who had been duly elected by the National Assembly that year. PC Necker had been attempting to deal with the food shortages the incompetent government of his predecessor had caused when the Royalistes under Capet began their revolution. Capet incited crowd after crowd with speeches declaring that a monarchy would be able to feed them; with a king in command, the bureaucracy would flow smoothly. Capet, of course, wanted to be that king. Necker and other members of the National Assembly attempted to quell the royalist ravings of these lunatics – the French had been a free people since the death of Charlemagne, ruled by an assembly of nobles and commoners for almost a thousand years. They had fended off English, German, Spanish and Italian kings all that time, and Necker vowed, “We will never bow to a king, not even one from France itself.” Unfortunately for the PC, sentiment in the countryside was against him, and some of the nobles from the National Assembly were swayed to Louis Capet's side, especially after Capet's peasants captured the Paris Arsenal with the weapons they secured from the Bastille. French generals, promised nobility and wealth by Capet, turned on the National Assembly and joined forces with the Royalistes, sealing the fate of French freedom. In 1792, to seal his successful rebellion, Louis Capet abolished the National Assembly and crowned himself Louis Premier, King Louis the first.

in 1789, King Louis XVI of France is assassinated when he tries to appeal to the mob storming the Bastille fortress personally. Although his presence stuns the crowd long enough for him to start an impassioned plea for their loyalty, those unimpressed by the royal personage start a cry for his head before he can finish his speech, and his personal guard are overwhelmed by hundreds of revolutionaries. King Louis was crushed under the feet of the mob, cruelly beaten to death. His broken body was carried by the peasants all the way to Versailles, where they cast it in front of the gates. Queen Marie Antoinette fled to her native Austria immediately, seeking shelter in the court of her brother, Emperor Joseph II. Joseph called up the Austrian army and ordered a march on Paris to restore Marie to her throne and seize the “dastardly miscreants who have committed regicide,” but the Austrians faced a French army that was unwilling to see a restoration of the monarchy, and were pushed back across the borders. Marie Antoinette was forced to watch as her kingdom became a revolutionary democracy, ruled by the people rather than by nobles; as time went on, and she settled back into Austrian court life, she maintained that she preferred life as a noblewoman in Austria to ruling France, and indeed, most who knew her seemed to think it was true. France, for its part, little missed her. When her son, Louis Charles, tried to return to France to build popular support for his restoration to the throne in 1821, he was murdered by a mob just as his father had been, and since then, no one from that branch of the Bourbon monarchs has set foot in France.

in 1789, at the urging of his most trusted ministers, King Louis XVI of France forces the nobles of the country to share their vast stores of food with the peasantry and commoners in order to stave off the hunger that is sweeping the land. Louis' ministers had sensed an almost revolutionary fever catching fire in the land, and knew that if the King didn't act, there might be dire consequences. The Queen herself, Marie Antoinette, long known for her charity work, handed out food from the royal kitchens at the ancient fortress known as the Bastille, winning over many hearts that had been hardened to the French nobility. The day became an annual affair in French society, and on Bastille Day, all French nobles hold an open court to share their blessings with the common folk. This sort of generosity is credited with keeping the monarchy and aristocracy of France beloved by the nation into the present day.

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