Bernard-René de Launay was already severely beaten but it continued as he shouted, “Enough! Let me die!” De Launay and 114 grenadiers had traded volleys with the attackers for four hours before it became apparent that resistance was useless. He opened the gates of the Bastille and was immediately set upon. The Royal Army contingent stationed nearby turned their heads as the 1,000 strong force of rioters stormed the medieval fortress.

De Launay was being knocked senseless by the flurry of fists and clubs as they connected with his head and neck. He tried to keep his footing as he was pulled and jerked outside. Someone smashed the butt of a rifle into his temple and he fell sideways, slamming onto the hard stone walk. He blacked out and was dragged to the Hôtel de Ville. There, outside of the beautiful City Hall, as the mob argued violently over what to do with him, de Launay came to. Blood streamed from his nose and ears but he was thankful that the beating had stopped for the moment. He opened a swollen eye.

A pastry-baker by the name of Desnot noticed the prisoner stirring and straddled over him. From a near-toothless mouth he spat a thick wad of phlegm into de Launay’s face. Instinctively, de Launay shot his knee into the air and landed a solid blow against Desnot’s groin. His eyes rolled backwards and he collapsed with a squeak. Within seconds, a dozen knives plunged into the soft belly of de Launay. His head was viciously sawed off, stuck on a pike, and paraded through Paris.

On the evening of July 14th, 1789, six months before his execution at the guillotine, King Louis XVI returned from a day of hunting and ironically penned in his diary: “Rien” – “Nothing happened.”

No comments: