Maps, Saint Germain des Près and the Eiffel Tower

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.

Maps, The Louvre and Palais Royal

18th Century Murder Weapon Boutique

177 Galerie de Valois Palais Royal Paris 75001

Here’s a little detail about The Martyr Murderess Charlotte Corday (you can catch up on her by reading the link below) most normal people probably wouldn’t be interested in. But I am admittedly morbid, (and you are too if you follow this page right?) so when I read that the dagger she used to murder Marat was purchased in one of the little shops surrounding the Palais Royal- of course I had to know which one!

177 Galerie de Valois today, empty

In the galleries surrounding the gardens of the Palais Royal (then known as the Palais de l’Egalité because of strong anti-royal sentiments and such) you can still see this shop where Charlotte bought her murder weapon. It was known in 1793 as a knife shop, Le Coutelier Badin.

Approximate location of the shop where Charlotte purchased the dagger she would use to kill Marat. Turgot map, 1739

According to her testimony, Charlotte purchased the 15cm blade for 40 sous around 8am on July 13, 1793. She then took a carriage to Marat’s home across the river. It took her multiple tries to enter his home that day (both the guardienne of the building and Marat’s companion told her off) but on her 3rd attempt in the evening, she yelled loudly enough for Marat to hear her from his bathroom, insisting she had information for him.

Assassination of Marat, Paul Baudry 1860

And like an 18th century bath ridden Mr. Rodgers, he told her to come on in! The rest is history,.. check out the post below.