Storming the Bastille: Indirect tests of how the Vainqueurs assembled

R. Barry Ruback, Sarah Koon-Magnin, Mary K. Faulkner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


How do people assemble in large groups? Do they come as individuals, do they move as an entire group from one location to another, or do they come in small groups of two or three? In this paper, we examine this issue in the context of the most prototypical of crowd events, the storming of the Bastille in 1789. We use data about the Vainqueurs (stormers) de la Bastille drawn from the French National Archives to indirectly test four possible mechanisms by which the Vainqueurs came to the Bastille: as individuals, through social networks, by proximity to gathering places, or through formal associations. Spatial analyses of their addresses, coupled with an eyewitness account of how people joined the Vainqueurs, suggest that social networks and proximity to gathering places best explain who stormed the Bastille, although there is evidence that some people came alone and some came through formal associations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-42
Number of pages20
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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