On 25 April 1792, Rouget de Lisle came up with what was then called the Chant de guerre pour l'armée du Rhin (War Song for the Rhine Army).Pictured right:
Rouget de Lisle Singing The Marseillaise (sic), by Isidore Pils. Musée historique de Strasbourg, 1849.
Two months later the song passed into history when, on 22 June 1792, a 22-year-old volunteer called François Mireur belted it out to inspire a gathering of revolutionaries planning to march from Marseille to Paris to storm King Louis XVI's Tuileries Palace.
The revolution, as we all know, was successful, a republic was proclaimed in September 1792 and Louis XVI was executed the following year. As a royalist, Rouget de Lisle himself was thrown into prison in 1793 in the aftermath of the uprising, narrowly escaped the guillotine and died in poverty in 1836.
But his song became France's National Anthem in 1795, was subsequently outlawed several time, then definitively reinstated in 1879.