July 11: Paris Match

2016/07/11 § Leave a comment

On this day in 1789 Jacques Necker dismissed from his job.

Necker (1732-1804) was director-general of finances to the French crown.  As such,when France was trying to dig itself out of a financial black hole his head was on the chopping block–to use a metaphor appropriate to the era.  The 1% (well maybe the 0.0001%; we’re talking Marie Antoinette’s crew here) expected him to raise taxes, but he refused to pass the burden to the Third Estate.  For taking his populist stance, he was dismissed from his job.  It was the pink slip heard ’round the world, sparking the storming of the Bastille three days later (on Bastille Day, of course).

Construction on the Bastille began in 1357, during the Hundred Years War.  It was a mighty fortress with a mighty image: a huge pile of stone marked by eight great bastions.  It was stormed by Revolutionaries who attacked it as a symbol of the regime, but also to get the valuable gunpowder in its stores.

Funny humans, with only a single day on your calendars that bears the name of a building, and it’s one you tore down.  The illustration above appears in the frontispiece to a book written by a former prisoner who had escaped, used here because the artist had the good sense to put dragons in his picture, and just about everything is improved with dragons.

Image: title page of  Die Hölle der Lebenden oder Die Bastille zu Paris (The Hell of the Living, or, The Bastille of Paris) by Abbé Jean de Bucquoy


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