Bernard René Jourdan, marquis de Launay (1740–1789) was the French governor of the Bastille, the son of a previous governor, and commander of its garrison when the prison-fortress in Paris was stormed on 14 July 1789 (see Storming of the Bastille).
The marquis Bernard-René Jordan de Launay was born on the night of 8/9 April 1740 in the Bastille where his father, René Jourdan de Launay, was governor. At the age of eight he was appointed to an honorary position in the King's Musketeers (mousquetaires du roi). He subsequently entered the French Guards (gardes-françaises), a regiment permanently stationed in Paris except in time of war.
In 1776 de Launay succeeded M. de Jumilhac as Governor of the Bastille. As was the custom with many senior positions under the Ancien Régime, the marquis purchased the office of governor from his predecessor as a form of investment. The thirteen years that he spent in this position were uneventful, though on 19 December 1778 he reportedly made the mistake of failing to fire the cannon of the Bastille as a salute on the birth of a daughter (Madame Royale) to King Louis XVI. In August 1785 he was given responsibility for the imprisonment of two prime figures in the royal necklace scandal: Cardinal Louis de Rohan and Jeanne de La Motte-Valois. He behaved correctly and considerately with both, although the latter was an extremely difficult inmate.
Until 1777 he was Seigneur of Bretonnière in Normandy. De Launay also owned and rented out a number of houses in the rue Saint-Antoine, neighboring the Bastille.
The permanent garrison of the Bastille, under de Launay, consisted of about 80 invalides (veteran military pensioners) no longer considered suitable for regular army service. Two days before 14 July they were reinforced by thirty Swiss grenadiers from the Salis-Samade Regiment.