A Bastille Day quiz

1. Who said, “Revolutions have terrible arms and righteous fists; they choose their targets well and rarely miss”?
a. Maximilien Robespierre
b. Georges Jacques Danton
c. Olympe de Gouges
d. Victor Hugo

2. Which deputy at the Convention government spoke out against the vague definition of plotter (conspirateur) in the midst of the Terror, and pleaded for measures that would protect the innocent?
a. Robespierre
b. Bishop Talleyrand
c. Marat
d. Danton

3. What author was guillotined in November 1793 on the grounds that her writings aimed to re-establish a counter-revolutionary regime?
a. Charlotte Corday, assassin of Jean-Paul Marat
b. Stéphanie Félicité Ducrest de St-Aubin, Countess de Genlis
c. La Princesse de Lamballe, former intimate of Marie-Antoinette
d. Olympe de Gouges, author of La Déclaration des droits de la femme

4. The official celebration of July 14 as the French national holiday dates from what era?
a. 1789
b. 1880
c. 1804
d. 1946

5. What author penned a 1791 document that explained the reasoning behind the actions of King Louis XVI on those days when military intervention could have reversed the course of events (such as July 14, 1789 or October 5-6, 1789), and stressed the king’s sacrifices towards the misguided people (la multitude égarée)?
a. Monsieur, Count de Provence (brother of King Louis XVI)
b. General Lafayette, leader of the National Guard
c. Jean Sylvain Bailly, mayor of Paris
d. King Louis XVI

6. Which public figure described himself as a martyr to the French people?
a. Robespierre
b. Marat
c. King Louis XVI
d. All of the above

7. Which revolutionary event is today considered the turning-point in the fate of the French monarchy?
a. July 14, 1789: the taking of the Bastille
b. October 5-6, 1789: the Women’s March on Versailles
c. January 21, 1793: the execution of Louis XVI
d. October 17, 1793: the execution of Marie-Antoinette

8. Which author penned these prescient words about the Revolution’s legacy: “Thus the truth of history, on this point as among others, will probably not lie in what happened, but only in what continues to be told”?
a. Robespierre
b. Hugo
c. Napoléon
d. Chateaubriand

9. What pop idol is currently the star of a music video that relays the history of the French revolution on YouTube ?
a. Lady Gaga
b. Madonna
c. Beyoncé
d. Taylor Swift

10. What is the most important legacy for France of the Revolution today?
a. The system of representative government
b. The commitment to universal rights
c. Free public education
d. All of the above

1. d. Victor Hugo, “Les révolutions ont le bras terrible et la main heureuse; elles frappent ferme et choisissent bien,” Les Misérables, ed. Rosa, 2 :1125.
2. a. “Il est important de bien définir ce que vous entendez par conspirateurs; autrement les meilleurs citoyens risqueroient d’être victimes d’un tribunal institué pour les protéger contre les entreprises des contre-révolutionnaires,” Maximilien Robespierre, speech at the Convention on March 11, 1793.
3. d. Olympe de Gouges, condemned and executed for being: “Femme de lettres, âgée de 38 ans, native de Montauban, convaincue d’être l’auteur d’écrits tendans à l’établissement d’un pouvoir attentatoire à la souveraineté du people” (Journal de Paris National, 3 novembre 1793).
4. b. 1880.
5. d. King Louis XVI, in Déclaration du Roi adressée à tous les Français à sa sortie de Paris, a 16-page manuscript left behind in the Tuileries castle on June 20, 1791, when the royal family tried to flee from France.
6. d. All of the above
7. b. The Women’s March (or October Days) is today considered the most important event for symbolic, material, and political reasons, as it revealed the people’s power over the monarch and re-placed the royal family in the capital city. Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette never saw Versailles again.
8. c. Napoléon Bonaparte
9. a. Lady Gaga (aka “The History Teachers”)
10. d. Vive la démocratie!

5 thoughts on “A Bastille Day quiz

  1. “The system of representative government” was already well-established in England and the United States before 1789. If the question had been phrased to say “legacy for France” then d. could be the correct answer.

    1. Glad you liked it! The response was tremendous; 600 hits in one day! I’ll make a quiz like this an annual feature of “A Revolution in Fiction.”

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