God save the … French king!?

French people are arrogant, vein, cowards, don’t bother about other languages and don’t clean their toilets. Ask any Brit and they will happily agree. So wouldn’t it be quite embarrassing to find out that the British anthem isn’t really very British at all? In fact, it is very, very French…

Lois XIV (or fourteenth if you prefer), king of France from 1643 to 1715, was a great admirer of arts, a love he took from his mother to whom he was exeptionally close. He became protector of the Academie Francaise and protected many, still influential writers such as Moliere and La Fontaine. He also enjoyed music and hired musicians with very French names as Jaques Champignon de Chambonnieres and Jean-Babtiste Lully.

So when, on the 18th November 1686, Louis XIV had to undergo a very painfull operation for an anal fistula, he called in Jean-Babtiste Lully to write him a special song in witch he asked for God’s grace. Not a bad idea considering what was laying ahead (the surgeon had even constructed a special scalpel for the occasion, and is still on display Paris). So, while at his bedside,  Lully wrote him a song asking God to save the King (Grand Dieu, sauve le roy).

Now, there are many versions of this particular story. For instance, it is more likely to have been written after the surgery to celebrate the successful removal of the fistula. Also, Jean-Babtiste Lully wasn’t the only one credited with the British anthem. Other candidates include people such as James Oswald, Henry Purcell and John Bull (look them up if you like), but what is certain is that it was eventually plagiarised by George Frederic Handel, the famous composer from the 18th century. And he was German! So in the end it is definitely not a very British song and, as you see, history is not above a proper poo joke.

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