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terça-feira, 14 de julho de 2015

The 14th July 1789

Today I went to the Embassy of France to celebrate its national day. It reminded me of an article I published three years ago for the school newspaper (in Portuguese):

"The 14th of July is the national day of France.

Toward the end of the 18th century, France was experiencing huge social, economic and financial difficulties. However, many of its political institutions, which supported an absolute monarchy, were still linked to medieval principles, organisation and forms of expression. As such, they still maintained the old social hierarchy of common representation, typical of the Middle Ages. Common representation divided society into three estates (classes): clergy; nobility; and working class (‘the third estate’). This third class included the bourgeoisie, peasants, and artisans organised by trade.

In 1789, the French state was bankrupt. To deal with this great crisis that lasted for quite some time, the Estates-General was convened (the largest Medieval assembly of representatives of the three classes), which had not happened since 1614. Throughout the following assemblies, representatives of ‘the third estate’ came to the fore. They considered the large meetings to be an opportunity to pour forth their complaints and insist on serious reforms. Faced with an enormously difficult socio-economic situation, violent hoards were manifest in many regions of France and, on the 14th July 1789, they stormed the Bastille – a prison-fortress in Paris –, which constituted a symbol of the absolute monarchy of King Louis XVI. Symbolically, it bore witness to the end of the absolute monarchy or the former regime (ancien regime) and the beginning of a new era. From there on, it became the national day of France.

The French Revolution provoked significant changes in political and social institutions and had repercussions across the globe, which was heavily influenced by their ideas of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (liberty, equality and fraternity).

La Marseillaise is the French national anthem. It was written in 1792 as a patriotic song, and despite having been composed in the north of France, it rapidly gained popularity during the French Revolution, above all in the breast of the soldiers of Marseille and Provence, from where it got its name."

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