Royalist historians have scoffed at the picture of thousands of Parisians hurling themselves at the Bastille to release a handful of prisoners (only seven were still kept there). But such criticism falls somewhat wide off the mark. The immediate aim was to find the powder which had been sent there from the Arsenal - all the more urgent after the large haul of muskets taken from the Invalides….Yet there was no intention to take it by force, least of all on the part of the Permanent Committee of Electors who directed operations, with fumbling uncertainty, from the City Hall. They had made their intentions clear from the start: to negotiate with the governor for the surrender of the gunpowder in his keeping and for the withdrawal of the guns from his battlements.
…However, negotiations stalled after the crowds, surging round the fortress and fearing a trap when the deputations took so long to reappear, lowered the drawbridge (unaccountably left unguarded) that led to the inner courtyard. Believing a frontal attack to be imminent, de Launay gave the order to fire. In the affray that followed, the besiegers lost ninety-eight dead and seventy-three wounded. At this point the electors abandoned their efforts and the crowd took over. The decisive blow was struck by two detachments of the Gardes Francaises who…marched to the fortress with five cannon removed that morning from the Invalides. Supported by a few hundred armed civilians, they trained their canon on the main gate. De Launay threatened to blow up the fortress, but being dissuaded by his garrison, lowered the main drawbridge and surrendered to his assailants.
He himself and six of the 110 defenders were slaughtered - a small number of victims, it must be said, compared with the far heavier losses suffered by the besiegers.
So the Bastille fell, with political consequences…
George Rude, The French Revolution