(2,653 words)

1. Absolutist prison and political myth

The French word bastille originally meant any fortification consisting of a circuit of several towers connected by walls. One such bastille was that built in Paris between 1370 and 1382. This generic term only became a significant and particular name, indeed a catchword, from the time when Richelieu started (ca. 1627) to use the Bastille in t…

Cite this page
Reichardt, Rolf, “Bastille”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Executive editor of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy. Consulted online on 19 January 2018 <>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20160321

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