Tuesday, July 13, 2010

She Done Him In - 1793

Today is the day in 1793 that Royalist supporter, Charlotte Corday, stabbed French Revolutionary, Jean Paul Marat, a supporter of Robespierre, to death. Because he suffered from a skin disease, Marat often spent hours in his bath, and it was there that he met his death. Corday did not try to escape and was sent to the guillotine four days later.

The painter, Jacques Louis David, was a disciple of the Revolution. He had visited Marat the day before his assassination and was able to recreate the scene of the crime.  However, he depicted an idealized version of Marat, free of all evidence of his skin disease.

With Robespierre's overthrow and execution in July 1794, David fell out of favor and went into exile in Belgium. Fortune signed on him once again with the rise of Napoleon.

David's death: "When David was leaving a theater, a carriage struck him, and he later died, on 29 December 1825. At his death, some portraits were auctioned in Paris, they sold for little; the famous Death of Marat was exhibited in a secluded room, to avoid outraging public sensibilities. Considered a regicide of King Louis XVI, the body of the painter was buried at Evere Cemetery, Brussels, while his heart was buried at Père Lachaise, Paris.

"In one of history's great coincidences, David's close association with the Committee of Public Safety during the Terror resulted in his signing of the death warrant for Alexandre de Beauharnais, a minor noble. De Beauharnais's widow, Rose-Marie Josèphe de Tascher de Beauharnais would later be known to the world as Joséphine Bonaparte, Empress of the French. It was her coronation by her husband, Napoleon I, that David depicted so memorably in the Coronation of Napoleon and Josephine, 2 December 1804." Wikipedia


  1. This is an interesting and macabre little historical tidbit! As convoluted as a soap opera! Truth is always stranger than fiction.

  2. She done him in, alright. Thanks for posting this! I knew a bit about it, but this really sheds light on the events. Thanks!

    P.S. I will read your new story ASAP!

  3. Apparently, Marat hid out in the sewers from his enemies, and that is possibly where he might have picked up his skin disease. And, yes, life is stranger than fiction.