The Bastille was built in response to a threat to Paris during the Hundred Years' War between England and France. Prior to the Bastille, the main royal castle in Paris was the Louvre, in the west of the capital, but the city had expanded by the middle of the 14th century and the eastern side was now exposed to an English attack. The situation worsened after the imprisonment of John II in England following the French defeat at the battle of Poitiers, and in his absence the Provost of Paris, Étienne Marcel, took steps to improve the capital's defences. In 1357, Marcel expanded the city walls and protected the Porte Saint-Antoine with two high stone towers and a 78-foot-wide (24 m) ditch.[A] A fortified gateway of this sort was called a "bastille", and was one of two created in Paris, the other being built outside the Porte Saint-Denis. Marcel was subsequently removed from his post and executed in 1358.
In 1369, Charles V became concerned about the weakness of the eastern side of the city to English attacks and raids by mercenaries. Charles instructed Hugh Aubriot, the new provost, to build a much larger fortification on the same site as Marcel's bastille. Work began in 1370 with another pair of towers being built behind the first bastille, followed by two towers to the north, and finally two towers to the south. The fortress was probably not finished by the time Charles died in 1380, and was completed by his son, Charles VI. The resulting structure became known simply as the Bastille, with the eight irregularly built towers and linking curtain walls forming a structure 223 feet (68 m) wide and 121 feet (37 m) deep, the walls and towers 78 feet (24 m) high and 10 feet (3.0 m) thick at their bases. Built to the same height, the roofs of the towers and the tops of the walls formed a broad, crenellated walkway all the way around the fortress. Each of the six newer towers had underground "cachots", or dungeons, at its base, and curved "calotte", literally "shell", rooms in their roofs. 350c69d7ab