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1793

Charlotte Corday assassinates French revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat

Jean-Paul Marat, one of the most outspoken leaders of the French Revolution, is stabbed to death in his bath by Charlotte Corday, a Royalist sympathizer.

Originally a doctor, Marat founded the journal L’Ami du Peuple in 1789, and its fiery criticism of those in power was a contributing factor to the bloody turn of the Revolution in 1792. With the arrest of the king in August of that year, Marat was elected as a deputy of Paris to the Convention. In France’s revolutionary legislature, Marat opposed the Girondists–a faction made up of moderate republicans who advocated a constitutional government and continental war.

By 1793, Charlotte Corday, the daughter of an impoverished aristocrat and an ally of the Girondists in Normandy, came to regard Marat as the unholy enemy of France and plotted his assassination. Leaving her native Caen for Paris, she had planned to kill Marat at the Bastille Day parade on July 14 but was forced to seek him out in his home when the festivities were canceled. On July 13, she gained an audience with Marat by promising to betray the Caen Girondists. Marat, who had a persistent skin disease, was working as usual in his bath when Corday pulled a knife from her bodice and stabbed him in his chest. He died almost immediately, and Corday waited calmly for the police to come and arrest her. She was guillotined four days later.

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