Source 6

Extract from a confidential report from the British Ambassador, 30th July 1789 (FO 27/32)


Your Grace receives, among other Papers a Récit of the taking of the Bastille, which I have reason to believe gives a pretty exact detail of the operations against that fortress, excepting that it greatly exaggerates the number of persons killed; not more than seven or eight having lost their lives during the whole of that affair.  The plan herewith enclosed, which I am told is very accurate, serves to illustrate the account that is given of the attack and subsequent advances.  Either the misconduct or the pusillanimity of the Garrison (which indeed consisted of not more than eighty invalids) rendered the capture of the Bastille a work of no great difficulty nor of long duration.  The fate of the Governor Launay, is generally lamented, for he was an Officer of great merit and always treated the prisoners committed to his charge with every degree of levity & humanity of which the nature of their situations would admit : it may be observed that the mildness of the present reign is strongly characterised by the small number of persons who were discovered in confinement in the Bastille: yet these considerations were not sufficient to check the fury of the populace, animated by the success of the Enterprise and heated with the spirit of vengeance.


pusillanimity – cowardice


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6. Look at Source 6. This is another extract from the report seen in Source 5.

  • What is wrong with the account of the storming of the Bastille?
  • What reasons does the ambassador suggest for the quick and easy take over of the Bastille?
  • What reasons are given to ‘lament’ the death of the Marquis de Launay?
  • What does the small number of prisoners actually inside the Bastille suggest about the reign of King Louis XVI?