In April of 1790, the fort was seized by a revolutionary mob which decapitated the garrison commander when he refused to surrender the fortress. Throughout the French Revolution, Firt Saint-Jean was used as a prison. Following the overthrow of noted statesman Maximilian de Robespierre (in 1794), 100 Jacobin ( an influential political club) prisoners held in the fort were massacred. Throughout the 19th century, and into the early 20th century, the fort was under the control of the French Army, which used it as a barracks.
Between 1830 and 1960, when the French Foreign Legion was based in North Africa, Fort Saint-Jean was used as a final stop-off point for recruit. It was also occupied during World War II by German Troops. During the liberation of Marseilles in 1944, an ammunition depot, inside the fort, exploded, destroying its historic battlements and several buildings. Repairs and reconstruction of the damage did not commence until 1967 and took four years to complete.
Today, Fort Saint-Jean is a top Marseilles tourist attraction, offering wonderful views of its Old Port.