La Carmagnole is the title of a French song created and made popular during the French Revolution, based on a tune and a wild dance that accompanied it of the same name that may have also been brought into France by the Piedmontese. It originated as a song in August 1792 and was successively added to in 1830, 1848, 1863–64, and 1882-83. The authors are not known. The title comes from the name of the short jacket worn by working-class militant sans-culottes adopted from the Piedmontese peasant costume whose name derives from the town of Carmagnola.
This song is triumphantly sarcastic about the fates of the Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, and those who support the French monarchy.
There are varied accounts of this song and where it was sung. It was mainly sung as a rallying cry or as entertainment among a group of pro-revolutionaries. It was also used as an insult to those who did not support the French Revolution. Popular punishment was to make them "sing and dance the Carmagnole", which could be done to marquises, dames, princes, monks, bishops, archbishops, cardinals and the like. La Carmagnole has also been documented as a rallying cry in battle. At the battle of Jemappes on 6 November 1792 it is written that, "the sans-culottes in the army rushed the enemy singing "La Marseillaise" and "La Carmagnole." It was a great republican victory, and all of Belgium fell to the revolutionary armies."
When not sung during an actual battle, the Carmagnole was often sung after political or military victories. One such event occurred after the storming of the Tuileries Palace on the night of August 9–10, 1792. The radical people of Paris asserted their power by forcing the king to flee to the nearby National Assembly. After storming the palace and massacring the King's personal Swiss Guard, the mob of Paris was "drunk with blood, danced and sang the Carmagnole to celebrate the victory." The song was also more generally associated with grassroots popular displays, such as festivals or the planting of liberty trees. It was common to include public singing at these symbolic events, and over the course of the Revolution "some 60,000 liberty trees were planted" giving the people many opportunities to sing.
Song was a very important means of expression in France during the Revolution. The Marseillaise, which has since become the French National Anthem, was written during this period. It has been written that, "Frenchmen took pride in their habit of singing and regarded it as one source of their success." In France, heroism was linked to gaiety. In the preface to the Chansonnier de la République there are questions that the French Republic poses to the world: "What will the ferocious reactionaries, who accuse France of unity, say when they see them equal to the heroes of antiquity in singing the Carmagnole? What will they say when they hear on the battlefields of the republicans these patriotic refrains, which precede and follow the most bloody combats?" La Carmagnole, and revolutionary song in general, was viewed as an important part of the new French Republic, and of being a Frenchman. La Carmagnole was particularly popular because, like the song Ah! ça ira ("It'll do", "Everything will be OK"), it contained simple lyrics that illiterate people could easily learn and understand, and therefore participate in singing. (YouTube video, with added verses)
La Nouvelle Carmagnole
La Carmagnole des royalistes