Everything you always wanted to know about La Marseillaise?
Last week we celebrated Bastille Day at the Vancouver University Women’s Club. Most of us sang La Marseillaise, the French anthem. But do you know that the song’s lyrics reflect the invasion of France by foreign armies (from Prussia and Austria) that were underway...?
On 25 April 1792, following France’s declaration of war on Austria and Prussia, the mayor of Strasbourg, Baron de Dietrich, asked army engineer Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle to write a song "that will rally our soldiers from all over to defend their homeland that is under threat".
The song was published under the name of Chant de guerre aux armées des frontières.
The Convention accepted it as the French national anthem in a decree passed on 14 July 1795, making it France’s first anthem. It later lost this status under Napoleon I, and the song was banned outright by Louis XVIII and Charles X, only being re-instated briefly after the July Revolution of 1830. In 1879, it was restored as France’s national anthem, and has remained so ever since.
In 1887 the Ministry of War, after consultation with a specially-appointed commission, adopted what it was to call an "official version" of the song, which was written into the Constitutions of the Fourth and Fifth Republics (1946 and 1958 respectively).
Article 2 of the Constitution of October 4th 1958 designates La Marseillaise the national anthem of France.