Bastille Day: French Independence Day

Contributor: Ryann Maginn. Lesson ID: 12399

Countries usually have different holidays, yet often share similar holidays because they share similar experiences. France and the United States share a similar special day -- even in the same month!



learning style
personality style
Lion, Otter
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Skill Sharpener

Lesson Plan - Get It!


You may be familiar with America’s Independence Day, but did you know the French have their own Independence Day as well?

Every year on July 14th, France celebrates Bastille Day.

This day is significant because it changed how their government was run.

On July 14, 1789, outraged Parisians (people from Paris, France) overtook the Bastille in order to capture ammunition. This violent mutiny became one of the most important events for the French Revolutionary War because it was said to start the war. The Bastille was a prison in France that imprisoned important persons charged with various offenses. During this raid, there were only 7 prisoners confined. The Parisians successfully overtook the prison and it was demolished the same day.

In order to understand this historical event, it helps to know these terms:

  • peasant class laborers and farmers of small farms
  • nobility a social class that’s not quite royalty, but experiences many privileges and higher social status compared to other classes
  • clergy people that are ordained for religious duties
  • monarchy a form of government in which one person, typically a king or queen, reigns
  • republic when a country’s people hold supreme power and are able to elect their own representatives in government, unlike in a monarchy

During this era, the peasant class had been frustrated with their government that was controlled mainly by nobility and clergy. The French Revolution successfully changed the system from being a monarchy to a republic.

Today, France continues to celebrate its victory every July. The oldest and largest military parade is held the morning of July 14th in Paris in front of the President of the Republic. In addition, citizens can expect to see beautiful fireworks shows near the Eiffel Tower. The overtaking of the Bastille may have occurred hundreds of years ago, but the impact of that event still holds significance and is celebrated to this day.

Download and print Storming of the Bastille Video Notes, found in Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar. Answer the questions as you watch the following HistoryPod video, 14th July 1789: Storming of the Bastille:


After watching the short video and answering the questions, check your answers with the Storming of the Bastille Video Notes Answer Key (Downloadable Resources).

Now, move on to the Got It? section, where you will get to test your knowledge about this revolutionary event in France.

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