France's national day on July 14th is called Bastille Day in English.

The day commemorates when a mob of people on July 14 1789 took a medieval castle, a symbol of Bourbon Royalty, in the opening action of the French Revolution.

My Question is: how many keys to the Bastille are still in existence today and where are they?

  1. I know General Lafayette came into the possession of one of the keys and sent it to his friend and superior officer in the American Revolution, George Washington. That key is on display at Washington's home in Alexandria Virginia, Mount Vernon, to this day, when it's not out on loan touring France.

  2. I found a second key at the Alexandria Virginia Masonic Lodge, also presented by General Lafayette a few decades after Washington's death.

  3. I found a third key at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in London, where Madame Tussaud brought the key with her when she fled France due to the revolution


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    Is there a pre-storming inventory of the keys (what they fitted and what they looked like) from the Bastille? Without it any key of appropriate age could be called a "Bastille Key". Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 19:24

1 Answer 1


At the time of its Storming (14 July 1789), the Bastille had about 400 keys. Today we know about the following:

  • H.S. Howell's 5 keys (Canada, but where are they now?)
  • Bill and Lynda Grieves' 3 keys (Ohio, USA)
  • Carnavalet Museum's 6+ keys (Paris, France)
  • National Archives' 27 keys (Paris, France)
  • Madam Tussaud's 2 keys (London, England)
  • George Washington Masonic Memorial 1 key (Alexandria, Virginia)
  • George Washington's Mount Vernon 1 key (Mount Vernon, Virginia)

More information about the Bastille's keys can be found in the book "George Washington's Liberty Key" and at www.LibertyKey.US

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