The Revolutionary Lady Assassin

Rue de l’Ecole de Médecine Paris 75006

Have you ever heard of Charlotte Corday- the murderess affectionately named The Angel of Assassination?

During the Reign of Terror, (the time during the French revolution when things were getting a little bananas) the radical, left wing Jacobin journalist Jean Paul Marat was using his popular newspaper L’Ami du Peuple (Friend of the People) to attack and denounce influential conservative leaders- ultimately sending anyone whose name appeared in his highly influential paper to their death with the flick of his quil.

Marat Lucien-Étienne Mélingue, 1879

Charlotte, a young woman of 26 influenced by Girondin ideas and wanting to prevent an all out civil war, decided to take matters into her own hands and end the massacre of so many caused by the words of Marat. As they say, snitches get stitches. Or in this case, shanked by a kitchen knife while in the bath. Acting alone, she made her way into Paris from the Normandy region, bought herself a dagger, (check out the link below to see where this was) and went to see Marat himself at his residence at 30 rue des Cordeliers (present day 18 rue de l’Ecole de Médecine)

Comparison to the current view where Marat was assasinated. His building was destroyed in 1876. It is a common misconception that his apartment is the one with the turet on the corner. Photos courtesy of c.corday.free.fr

on July 13, 1793. Claiming to have insider information on an attack being led by Girondists, she was refused a few times but like any persistent AF girl with a plan, she continued to ask for entry until she got in. Now Marat had some unknown knarly debilitating skin disease and was pretty much confined to his bathtub, which was where he was seated with a glass of White Zin when Charlotte plunged her 5 inch dagger into his carotid artery, killing him nearly instantly.

“L’assassinat de Marat” The Assasination of Marat. Painted in 1880 by Jean-Joseph Weert

He was able to yell out before he died, thus attracting a crowd of neighbours and friends of Marat to seize Charlotte and take her straight to prison.

Charlotte was prepared to take one for the Girondin Team and even had a letter neatly prepared explaining why she did what she did. She went calmly to the guillotine on the 17th of July and before she was executed boldly proclaimed “I killed one man to save 100,000.” Badass. Her last request was to be painted.

Charlotte painted by Jean-Jacques Hauer before she was executed

Charlotte’s courageous action radically changed the perceptions of women’s roles at that time when they had no voice to really make a difference. No one could believe that she had acted alone and of her own free will. Insisting a strong male lover had convinced her delicate and impressionable female mind to commit the shocking crime, her body was even examined for evidence she was not a virgin.

To their surprise; she was.

Read the post below to find out Charlotte purchased her dagger.

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