Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle wrote "La Marseillaise" in Strasbourg on 25 April 1792. Its original name was "Chant de guerre pour l'Armée du Rhin" ("War Song for the Army of the Rhine") and it was dedicated to Marshal Nicolas Luckner, a Bavarian-born French officer from Cham. It became the rallying call of the French Revolution and received its name because it was first sung on the streets by volunteers (fédérés) from Marseille upon their entry into Paris on 30 July 1792 after a young volunteer from Montpellier called François Mireur had sung it at a patriotic gathering in Marseille and the troops adopted it as the marching song of the National Guard of Marseille. A newly graduated medical doctor, Mireur later became a general under Napoléon Bonaparte and died in Egypt at 28.
The song's lyrics reflect the invasion of France by foreign armies (from Prussia and Austria) which was ongoing when it was written; Strasbourg itself was attacked just a few days later. The invading forces were repulsed from France following their defeat in the Battle of Valmy.
"La Marseillaise" was adopted as its anthem by the Paris Commune in 1871. The Convention accepted it as the French national anthem in a decree passed on 14 July 1795, making it France's first; but it was then banned successively by Napoleon I, Louis XVIII, and Napoleon III, only being reinstated briefly after the July Revolution of 1830. During Napoleon I's reign Veillons au Salut de l'Empire was the unofficial anthem of the regime and during Napoleon III's reign Partant pour la Syrie. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries "La Marseillaise" was recognised as the anthem of the international revolutionary movement and in 1871, it was adopted by the Paris Commune. Eight years later in 1879, it was restored as France's national anthem, and has remained so ever since.
Several countries features La Marseillaise in their stamps. Some of them are featured here- from Cuba, Nicaragua, Guinea Bissau and Germany. The cover below is from Strasbourg- with a special cancel on the Bicentenary of La Marseillase (1989-1989).