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« I killed a man to save a hundred thousand. " said Charlotte corday after having assassinated Marat. By this very symbolic act, accomplished by her alone and in the name of the principles of 1789, she became the most famous woman of the French Revolution, later nicknamed "angel of assassination" by Lamartine. Arrested and imprisoned, Charlotte Corday is brought before the Revolutionary Tribunal which sentences her to capital punishment. Charlotte Corday's gesture did not, however, appease France, which sank into the murderous madness of the Terror.
Revolutionary France in turmoil
1793: theFrance revolutionary is torn between moderate Girondins and extremists in the mountains. The country faces an economic crisis, aggravated by the internal disturbances which followed the death of Louis XVI, guillotined on January 20, and the military failures against the neighboring and hostile monarchies. It was under these conditions of great national excitement that the mountain dwellers ended up forcibly removing the Girondists, under the leadership of Danton, Robespierre and Marat.
Before proclaiming himself a torchbearer of the revolution and "the friend of the people", Jean PaulMarat was a royalist, practicing his profession as a doctor with Louis XVI's own brother. His career not having had the success he hoped for, he embraced the cause of the revolution, got himself elected as a deputy and made it his mission to educate the people through his newspaper. Megalomaniac and paranoid, but popular and talented, he quickly turns into a bloodthirsty monster, calling for the death of aristocrats, the rich, the profiteers ... From his bathtub where he is cured of leprosy, he never ceases to call for denunciation and to the murder of pseudo-traitors to the revolution, unfortunately with some success.
Charlotte Corday and the assassination of Marat
In June 1793, Marie-Anne Charlotte Corday d'Armont met several Girondins who had taken refuge in Normandy after their proscription and befriended them. Born July 27, 1768, from a family of Norman aristocrats, and above all great-niece of Pierre Corneille, Charlotte Corday has been very influenced since her childhood by tragic literature and ancient heroes, as well as by the romantic ideal of the honor and duty. She is a woman of spirit, a staunch Republican and an idealist, deeply repelled by the bloodthirsty madness of the Marats and others. Noting the inaction of her Girondin friends, she suddenly decided to take action.
Charlotte Corday leaves Caen for Paris, without it being known whether she already intended tomurder Marat. Yet this is the outcome she imagines, hoping by this act to end the murderous frenzy that has gripped the revolutionaries. Once the decision is made, she hopes to be able to kill Marat in the Convention podium to make his gesture even more spectacular, unaware that he never leaves his home. After having drawn up her will to explain and justify her act, she goes to Marat's, thwarting the vigilance of those close to her. She ends up meeting him at his home under the pretext of revealing to him what is going on in Caen. Without hesitation, she stabs a knife in his chest while he is in his bath.
The Charlotte Corday trial and the start of the Terror
Immediately apprehended, she does not try to escape her destiny. before the revolutionary tribunal, she confronts her judges with great courage and dignity, accepting her death sentence in advance. "You only die once. She will say. At the helm, she castigates the executioners who assassinate freedom, including the infamous Fouquier-Tinville who faces her. She was condemned on July 17, 1793 and led to the guillotine, facing the popular vindication which celebrated her revolutionary martyrdom. She climbs steadfastly on the scaffold, citing her illustrious elder "Dying for the country is not a sad fate, it is immortalized by a beautiful death. »
His gesture will not have the desired result. The assassination of Marat provokes a wave of violence and repression which preludes the establishment of the Terror. Such a lyrical heroine, it was in the name of republican principles that Charlotte Corday assassinated Marat. The latter said one day "It is through violence that freedom must be established. He was heard by a courageous and perhaps a little naive woman who felt that freedom was well worth its own sacrifice.
- By Jean-Denis Bredin, "You only die once: Charlotte Corday". Fayard, 2006.
- Memoirs of Charlotte Corday: Written in the days preceding her execution of Catherine Decours. Plon, 2009.
- DVD: Charlotte Corday: The assassination of Marat. 2009.