(Click for a larger image)

I see that today is 14th July.

Within the British historical consciousness — such as it is — this is not a date that looms particularly large (except, perhaps, for those people who know that it is the birthday of the wonderful English composer Gerald Finzi [1901-1956]).

To our cousins across la Manche, however, 14th July is le 14 Juillet, also known as la Fête nationale — or, if you want to put it this way, Bastille Day.

In other words, this is the anniversary of the occasion — all the way back in 1789! — on which a symbolically potent fortress-prison in central Paris was stormed by the common people of the city who were opposed to the nation’s feudal system and absolute monarchy; the event was a turning-point in the French Revolution — about ten weeks in, at that point — and its immediate result was the abolition of feudalism (4th August) and the issuing of the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen’ (26th August). Continue reading