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Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle

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Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle

Biography

Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle (10 May 1760 Lons-la-Saunier, France – 26 June 1836, Choisy-le-Roi, France) was a French army officer of the French Revolutionary Wars. He is known for writing the words and music of the Chant de guerre pour l'armée du Rhin in 1792, which would later be known as La Marseillaise and become the French national anthem.

He enlisted into the army as an engineer and attained the rank of captain. A royalist, like his father, he refused to take the oath of allegiance to the new constitution. Rouget de Lisle was cashiered and thrown into prison in 1793, narrowly escaping the guillotine. He was freed during the Thermidorian Reaction and retired to Montague.

The song that has immortalized him, La Marseillaise, was composed at Strasbourg, where Rouget de Lisle was garrisoned in April 1792. France had just declared war on Austria, and the mayor of Strasbourg, baron Philippe-Frédéric de Dietrich, held a dinner for the officers of the garrison, at which he lamented that France had no national anthem. Rouget de Lisle returned to his quarters and wrote the words in a fit of patriotic excitement after a public dinner.

Rouget de Lisle died in June 1836, only three months before John Stafford Smith, the composer of The Star-Spangled Banner.


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