Bastille Day and The Marquis de Lafayette: A Violent Beginning and a Bloody End

I’m reminded that it’s Bastille Day. I have mixed feelings about it, as I do with nearly everything. Apparently I cannot be simple. They celebrate Bastille Day in France like we do our Independence Day, but the storming of the Bastille was the one of the acts that led to unparalleled chaos and bloodshed. It was one of the most inhuman times in history, which is saying a lot.

A portion of the letter Lafayette sent to Washington along with the key to the Bastille.

A portion of the letter Lafayette sent to Washington along with the key to the Bastille, and a picture of what it looked like before he ordered it destroyed.

 

Lafayette was intimately involved with the storming, and he ordered the destruction of the despised prison. He had great intentions. But he was perhaps too innocent, naively believing that they could all just get along. He walked the line between the two groups – aristocracy and commoners – not because he suffered from hubris but because he truly identified with both. He believed he could fix things, because he didn’t know the depth of hatred on one side and the depth of greed on the other. He couldn’t see the darkness of humanity, perhaps because he felt none himself.

Washington treasured the key his adopted son sent him, because of the symbolism behind it. However, he knew resolution would not be simple - if possible. He feared for his adopted son.

Washington treasured the key his adopted son sent him, because of the symbolism behind it. However, he knew resolution would not be simple – if possible. He feared for his adopted son.

Washington knew Lafayette was in trouble with this new revolution, but he couldn’t save his adopted son. So, this is Bastille Day. An end, and a beginning. Comme ça. Perhaps, in the end, it IS that simple. Even if I’m not.

Comment (1)

  1. Bill Bahr

    Thanks for your interesting analysis about Lafayette’s naivete. Am doing some analysis myself in my upcoming book:
    “George Washington’s Liberty Key:
    Mount Vernon’s Bastille Key — the Mystery and Magic of its Body, Mind, and Soul”
    http://www.bahrnoproducts.com/Bastille_Key.htm
    Thanks again!

    Reply

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