La Marseillaise

“La Marseillaise: The hymn of the French Revolution and the national anthem of France. The words and music were written on the night of 24 April 1792 by Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle (1760-1835), an artillery officer in the garrison at Strasbourg, in response to a request by the mayor of Strasbourg for a military marching song following the outbreak of war with Austria on 20 April. Its original title was ‘Chant de guerre pour l’armee du Rhin’ (‘war song of the Rhine army’), but it became known as ‘La Marseillaise’ after it was sung in Paris in July 1792 by troops from Marseilles. It has had a checkered career as the French national anthem, being dropped in non-republican phases. It was first adopted in 1795 but banned by Napoleon when he became emperor. The ban continued after the 1815 restoration, but was lifted after the 1830 revolution. It was banned again on the establishment in 1852 of the Second Empire of Napoleon III, and was not readopted until 1879, some years after the establishment of the Third Republic.

Allons, enfants de la patrie,

Le jour de gloire est arrive.

(‘Come, children of the country, the day of glory has arrived.’)”

Claude Joseph Rouget De Lisle: ‘Le Marseillaise’ (1792), opening lines

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.

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