La Marseillaise and The Cult of the Supreme Being

In The Cult of Supreme Being, Robespierre focused intensely on the correlation between God and revolution. Robespierre’s focus on God discredited the divine right claimed by the French monarchs. While absolutists claimed their title to the throne was granted to the by God, Robespierre claimed the opposite, stating that God did not create kings to “devour the human race.” He did not support many enlightened thinkers of the era,who wished to distance the goals of the revolution from Christianity. Rather, Robespierre legitimizes the revolutionary cause by claiming that God supported freedom and the revolution.

La Marseillaise, on the other hand, has some major differences than The Cult of the Supreme Being. For one, it is not a religiously based document, and it is also a direct call to arms. Robespierre’s document is a religious justification of the revolution, while La Marseillaise implores direct action to be taken. Translated to English, the song cries of revolution, demanding fields to be watered with blood, and that the revolutionaries demand liberty or death. These documents are key revolutionary pieces, although they have different motives. One document is a justification of war, while the other demands action to be taken against the monarchy.

3 thoughts on “La Marseillaise and The Cult of the Supreme Being

  1. After reading the first two verses of the French National Anthem, one begins to understand how significant the United States was in their anthem, for they implore many of the same feelings that the United States felt against Great Britain. As you mention, the La Marseillaise piece, the anthem states, “the revolutionaries demand liberty or death.” When looking at this, it is very similar to the United States of America and their stance against Great Britain some few years earlier. Ultimately, the Le Marseillaise piece strengthens the argument that both the United States revolution and the French revolution come from a common heritage, for both the French and the United States had many of the same values and would rather have die for their liberty, than live in their current state.

  2. After reading the first two verses of the French National Anthem, one begins to understand how significant the United States was in their anthem, for they implore many of the same feelings that the United States felt against Great Britain. As you mention, the La Marseillaise piece, the anthem states, “the revolutionaries demand liberty or death.” When looking at this, it is very similar to the United States of America and their stance against Great Britain some few years earlier. Ultimately, the Le Marseillaise piece strengthens the argument that both the United States revolution and the French revolution come from a common heritage, for both the French and the United States had many of the same values and would rather have die for their liberty, than live in their current state.

  3. This is a well-written and insightful post about the readings we were assigned. I completely agree that, in the Cult of the Supreme Being, Robespierre tries to undercut the divine right of kings. However, I disagree with your argument regarding Christianity. Not once in his writing did Robespierre mention “God” by name. Rather, the document refers to a deity figure that, while an individual may interpret it as the Christian God, does not necessarily equate to this Christian God. It appears that instead, Robespierre argued for the existence of a deity meant to establish the balance of power between the governing body and the governed. When this balance is upset, this deity encourages the people to act upon the wrongdoings. In essence, Robespierre meant that there’s a spirit-like entity that spreads across the people, inspiring them to fight against oppression. Of course, its altogether possible the Robespierre was referring to the Christian God, but it seems more likely that he held more of a deist or spiritual disposition.

    Also, the song, La Marseillaise, was actually written by a royalist who was trying to incite those among him to rise up and go to war with Austria. Therefore, I would be careful in claiming its clear attack on the monarchy, but rather perhaps consider it as a piece unintentionally becoming the rallying cry of the revolutionaries.

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