A Murder of Patriotism

3 mins read
A Murder of Patriotism

On July 13, 1793, Charlotte Corday assassinated Jean-Paul Marat.

She intended to murder him in broad daylight. But because of his terrible skin condition, a kind of psoriatic arthritis, Jean-Paul Marat was forced to spend a lot of time in his bath at home in the Rue des Cordeliers during the unusually hot summer of 1793. On July 13, at approximately 7 p.m., 24-year-old Charlotte Corday visited him there.

50-year-old physician-turned-revolutionary Marat’s publication, L’Ami du peuple, consistently used aggressive and inflammatory language to further its cause. Marat stated, “A year ago, by chopping off five or six hundred heads, you would have set yourself free and joyful forever.” in one broadside from 1790. Today, 10,000 would be required; in a few months, possibly 100,000 would need to be removed.

Corday was a republican long before the revolution, hence she wasn’t a reactionary. She reasoned that Marat was France’s anarchist in chief and that the country had sunk into anarchy. So there she was, hiding a five-inch kitchen knife under her garment, in his home, in his bathroom.

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Why did he permit her access? His wife had expressed hesitation. That day, she had already turned Corday away. However, Corday pledged to provide Marat the names of Normandy’s traitors. He was powerless to stop. He declared, “I will have them all guillotined.”

He simply need one stab from her. That was brought up throughout her trial. The tribunal president questioned, “Surely she must have practiced. Oh the beast! exclaimed Corday. “He thinks I’m an assassin!”

She was viewed as a patriot by Corday. She responded, “I killed one man to rescue 100,000.” Maybe that was figurative language. She could have thought about Marat’s proclamation from 1790. The court attempted to get her to admit that she was a conspirator. After all, how could a woman come up with and carry out such an idea by herself? They enquired as to who had taught her to despise Marat. I didn’t need other people’s hatred,” she retorted. I had had enough of myself.

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She had intended to flee to England after the murder because her brothers were there, but Corday faced the guillotine with calm. She just asked that her portrait be painted before she passed away.


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