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La Marseillaise

The French national anthem, was composed in one night in April 1792 during the French Revolution by Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle, a captain of the engineers and amateur musician stationed in Strasbourg.

It was played at a patriotic banquet at Marseille and copies were given to the revolutionary forces then marching on Paris. They entered Paris singing this song, marching to the Tuileries on August 10th.

Ironically, Rouget de Lisle was a royalist and refused to take the oath of allegiance to the new constitution. He was imprisoned and barely escaped the guillotine. Originally called "Chant de guerre de l'armeé du Rhin", the anthem became known as "La Marseillaise" because of its popularity with volunteer army units from Marseilles.

The Convention accepted it as the French national anthem in a decree passed July 14, 1795. La Marseillaise was banned by Napoleon during the Empire and by Louis XVIII on the Second Restoration in 1815 because of its revolutionary associations. Authorized after the July Revolution of 1830, it was again banned by Napoleon III and not reinstated until 1879.

Rouget de Lisle died in poverty in Choisy-le-Roi, Seine-et-Oise. His ashes were transferred from Choisy-le-Roi cemetery to the Invalides on 14 July 1915, during World War One.

To hear a rousing rendition of La Marseillaise sung by the legendary Mireille Mathieu - and see the French word so you can sing along, click here.


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