Allons enfants de la Patrie

I’m a bit late for Bastille Day, but surely it’s never too late for a great bit of history. The story of La Marseillaise, the stirring and bloody-minded French national anthem is the backdrop to the Feb. 28 lecture of historian Margaret Anderson’s excellent survey course The Making of Modern Europe, 1453 to the Present (website, feed). (The syllabus is here. Lecture outlines are here.)

la Marseillaise

Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle, composer of the Marseillaise, sings it for the first time at the home of Dietrich, Mayor of Strasbourg. Image credit*

Anderson takes a backseat during much of this lecture about the French Revolution, given by a guest lecturer named Chad (possibly Chad Denton, a graduate student in the History Department?). Chad’s delivery is a bit stiff, but he has a great story to tell: how La Marseillaise, originally “The War Song for the Army of the Rhine” became the anthem of the Paris revolutionaries and how this story intersects with the story of the French Revolution.

Don’t miss the other great lectures of this course, especially Anderson’s take on the Industrial Revolution (March 11 lecture). She stresses that it was cultural change rather than technological change that was behind the astounding transformations that made Britain the world’s  first industrial power.

New attitudes towards purchasing… were based less upon what you needed then what you wanted. The industrial revolution itself we could say was based at least as much upon competitive consumers as it was upon competitive producers.

Sounds like our consumer culture has deep roots in the very beginnings of the Industrial Revolution.

Image credit: Wikipedia. Public domain.
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