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The Pont de la Tournelle replaced a wooden bridge constructed in 1370 whose complicated name, "Pont de fust de l'isle Notre-Dame et Saint-Bernard" did little to make it popular. Washed away by a flood, it was finally replaced by a stone construction in 1656. La Tournelle (for turret) was a small fortress that was well known among Parisians since it served as a "comfortable" prison reserved for galley slaves, thanks to the caring priest Saint-Vincent-de-Paul. Public charity thus supported these galley slaves! However, on September 3, 1792, the prisons 63 convicts were butchered by drunken patriots worked up to a frenzy by the diatribes of Marat, and who had no doubt mistaken the convicts for dangerous counter-revolutionaries.

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