National anthem

National anthem

The National Anthem of France is La Marseillaise. Learn some information about the origin and its history. Find out why was it called La Marseillaise and who was the author.

La Marseillaise

The French National Anthem is called La Marseillaise. It is certainly one of most stirring, but also one of the most sanguinary. It originated during the French Revolution, but did not permanently become the anthem of France until 1879.

The author

The French Anthem was composed by Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle during one night in Strasbourg in 1792. The song was originally entitled “Chant de guerre de l’armée du Rhin” (War Song of the Army of the Rhine). It became so popular with volunteer army units from Marseilles that it was renamed after those units, coming to be called La Marseillaise.


Rouget de Lisle was neither a political figure nor a famous musician. In fact he was a royalist and refused to take the oath of allegiance to the new constitution. He was imprisoned and escaped the guillotine only because of the fact that he had composed the national anthem of France.

The Marseillaise was accepted as the official national anthem of France on July 14, 1795 by the Convention. It was banned by Napoleon III during the Empire and by Louis XVIII during the Second Restoration of 1815. Napoleon’s decision was based on the song’s revolutionary character and its dangerous revolutionary association.

In 1830 Napoleon III had to ban it again since it had been brought back by the authorities after the revolution in the July of 1830. It was finally officially restored only in 1879.

The French national anthem is heard at official events and major international sporting events. It contains many verses, though usually just the first verse and chorus are sung.


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