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Top 20 Political Songs: La Marseillaise | Claude de Lisle | 1792

The anthem of the Republic was penned by a Royalist who narrowly escaped the guillotine

Claude de Lisle, a French composer born in 1760, wrote what would become the French national anthem while stationed with the army in Strasbourg. A moderate Royalist, de Lisle wrote "La Marseillaise" out of patriotism, christening it "Chant de guerre pour l'armée du Rhin" ("War Song for the Army of the Rhine").

It would become "La Marseillaise" during the storming of the Tuileries Palace at the height of the French Revolution. Provencal volunteers, part of a mob of citizens attempting to capture King Louis XVI in August 1792, adopted it as their own. It was accepted as the French national anthem in 1795 but later banned by Napoleon I, Louis XVIII and Napoleon III, before being reinstated in 1879.

De Lisle had less success. Though his political sensibilities did not cost him his head and he would go on to compose more songs, he died in poverty in 1836.

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