Contrary to what most English speaking people believe, the storming of the Bastille did not mark the birth of the modern French nation.
France's national day is called la FÃªte Nationale or le Quatorze Juillet. It has never ever been called "la FÃªte de la Bastille" by the French!
The most important day in the history of France was definitely June 20, 1789, when members from the Third Estate (i.e. the common people) took the "Serment du Jeu de Paume" (Oath of the Tennis Court).
The Oath signified the first time that French citizens formally stood in opposition to the King and that the deputies of the National Assembly (established on June 17, 1789) were declaring themselves the supreme state power. That was a revolution.
The revolution of the people for the people lasted until 1799, followed by a succession of shortlived republican governments, two self-made Emperors and three kings (relatives of Louis XVI) with several short but bloody revolutions in between.
The creation of a National Day was voted by the lower chamber then discussed by the senate on June 29, 1880 and ratified by the French Senate on July 6, 1880. On July 14, 1790 (the FÃªte de la Federation) a huge crowd massed on the Champ de Mars acclaimed Louis XVI.
Calling himself for the first time "King of the French people", he became a constitutional monarch according to the first-ever Constitution, written by the National Assembly.
This is the July the 14th that is celebrated in France.
J-L Brussac Coquitlam
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