Revolutionary Culture & Religion

As the French Revolution began to transition from phase one, the Liberal Revolution, to the Revolution of War, Terror, and the Rise of Republican France, culture was extremely effected. In La Marseillaise, written by laude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle, he uses his song to call all citizens to arms to defend against “The roar of these savage soldiers” as
“They come right into our arms, To cut the throats of your sons, your country.”   La Marseillaiseis still the national Anthem of France, which is a prime example of how the cultural changes in the Revolution have made a lasting impact even to the present day.  I found the situation in which La Marseillaise was written was somewhat similar to that of the Star Spangled Banner.  Written in one night, by someone who was not primarily a poet/song writer (laude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle was a captain of the engineers, and Francis Scott Key was a lawyer).  Also, neither instance was written specifically to be a national anthem.  La Marseillaise was for a banquet at Marseillaise, and Francis Scott Key’s was a simple retelling of what he say aboard a British Vessel.

Religion also changed dramatically during the revolution.  Maximilien Robespierre, one of the leaders of the Committee of Public Safety wrote The Cult of the Supreme Being, almost as a new declaration of religion.  Along with more tame pieces, concerning Monarchical rule and the waste of the clergy, stating “He did not create kings to devour the human race. He did not create priests to harness us, like vile animals, to the chariots of kings and to give to the world examples of baseness, pride, perfidy, avarice, debauchery, and falsehood.” Robespierre also included many radical statements.  He called for outlawing the traditional calendar, and to replace it with a completely different one.  This caused extreme confusion within the nation.  Additionally, he called” Republican Frenchmen, it is yours to purify the earth which they have soiled, and to recall to it the justice that they have banished!”  This is similar the Karl Marx’s final quote in the communist manifesto in which he calls the working class to reclaim the earth from the elite class.  With the removal of Christianity from France, all religious traditions were deemed hostile to the success of France, causing the populous to be under threat of execution.

2 thoughts on “Revolutionary Culture & Religion

  1. I also thought it was quite interesting that both our national anthem and the French national anthem were written in one night, by men who were not even musicians and who did not intend on these songs becoming anthems. Your comparison of Robespierre’s words to that of Karl Marx was very interesting as well. Perhaps there could be a link between Robespierre and Marx in the form of shared ideals and thought processes. Perhaps Marx borrowed from Robespierre, after all Robespierre became a respected leader, maybe not for the right reasons but respect is respect nonetheless.

  2. Both La Marseillaise and The Cult of the Supreme Being share the common element of a call to arms to revolt against the king in order for liberty to be achieved. Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle tells the citizens to “form up [their] battalions.” Robespierre declares “it is yours to purify the earth which they have soiled, and to recall to it the justice that they have banished!” These statements enabled individuals to rally together and overthrow the oppressive monarchical regime.

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