Explain their decisions. The Bastille was considered by many

Explain to children that they are going to learn about a significant part of French history,
which happened on 14
th
July 1789, during the period of colonisation. At this time, the
decisions by the French monarchy – the King and Queen – were causing the poor to go
hungry. The wealthier middle-class merchants and businessmen were worried about the
situation, but were not having their concerns heard. By the late 1780s, many people
in France had created groups to be able to speak out and talk about how fed up they were
with the situation. They demanded that new laws were made – ones that did not favour the
rich.
King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette tried to calm the situation down, but the
citizens rebelled. As a response to the lack of understanding and decision making coming
from the monarchy, a group stormed the Bastille prison, where the king and queen usually
locked up people who disagreed with their decisions. The Bastille was considered by many
French people to be a symbol of the corrupt monarchy, and the seizure of it was the start of
a 10-year revolution, which brought great changes as well as many deaths along the way.
Even though democracy wasn’t established for several decades following this, the revolution
completely changed the way France was governed.
Today, over 200 years after the storming of the prison, Bastille Day has become a national
holiday. It is a day which symbolises the end of the French monarchy and the beginning of
the French Revolution. On Bastille Day, most French people in France watch big firework
displays and take part in parades which happen on both Bastille Eve and Day.
Either as a class or in groups, have children role play the seizure of Bastille, with two people
playing the King and Queen and a number of children playing the group who stormed the
prison. Do you think the King and Queen would have had any allies? Perhaps one person
could play an employee of the King and Queen. How would they have felt when the group
stormed the Bastille? Would they have joined them or defended their King and Queen? 

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