|CHARLOTTE CORDAY STABS MARAT IN HIS TUB.|
Jean-Paul Marat was a leader of the Reign of Terror in France and the partner of
another famous man of that period, Maximilian Robespierre
. While also a
political theorist and scientist, he was best known as a radical journalist
whose writings displayed a strong bias against those he deemed enemies of the
cause. An extreme voice behind the French Revolution, Marat was one of the most
important men in France, alongside Robespierre
and Georges Danton
, until his
death by assassination.
Jean-Paul Marat was born in modern-day Switzerland but left home at the age of
sixteen to seek his fortune. After serving as a private tutor in Bordeaux, he
came to England and established himself as a doctor. He began to mix with
Italian artists and architects, and he attempted to prove himself an
intellectual by publishing several philosophical and political essays between
the years of 1774 and 1775. He moved to Newcastle upon Tyne, where he wrote his
first prominent work, “Chains of Slavery,” inspired by English radical John
Wilkes. A later doctoral work secured him an honorary degree from St. Andrew’s
University, which helped to advance his reputation. After returning to England
for a brief time, he moved to France, where he was appointed a job as physician
to the bodyguard of the future King Charles X. His doctoring skills were widely
sought after, and he set up a laboratory and published several more medical
journals. He resigned from the court in 1786 to devote his full energies to
science, but he put a halt to that endeavor on the eve of the French Revolution,
when he began writing on behalf of the Third Estate.
Attacking the most powerful and influential Parisian organizations, Marat was
forced to flee to Britain. He soon returned to France but was forced into
hiding in the Paris sewers. He remained out of the spotlight until 1792, when
he emerged publicly during the capture of Louis XVI. He was elected to the
National Convention, although he declared himself free from party affiliation.
After the king’s death, Marat began to fight with the Girondins, whom he
believed to be enemies of the republic. The Girondins ordered that Marat be
tried before the Revolutionary Tribunal, but he was acquitted and returned to
the Convention more popular than ever. The resulting fall of the Girondins was
Marat’s final great achievement. Forced to resign from the Convention due to a
worsening skin disease, the revolutionary continued to work from home, where he
spent much of his time in a medicinal bath. He was in his tub one day when he
was approached by a woman claiming to have vital information concerning the
whereabouts of escaped Girondists. After relaying news concerning several of
Marat’s enemies, she rose from her chair, withdrew a knife from her corset, and
plunged it into his chest, killing him instantly. The woman was later
guillotined, and Marat’s death inspired the suspicion and fear that fueled the
Reign of Terror.
Key events during the life of Jean-Paul Marat:
||Left home in search of fame and fortune; worked as a private tutor to a wealthy family in Bordeaux
||Moved to London and became an informal doctor
||Published ''Chains of Slavery''
||Received an honorary degree from St. Andrew's University
||Moved to France
||Became physician to the bodyguard of the future Charles X
||Resigned from the court
||Went into hiding
||Assassination of Louis XVI
||Fought bitterly with the Girondins
||Assassinated in a bathtub
||Key figure of the French Revolution. Leader of the Reign of Terror.
||Key figure of the French Revolution who was eventually lost his head.
||King during the French revolution. Beheaded by republicans who sought to overthrow the monarchy.
||Girondist sympathizer during the French Revolution. Assassinated Marat and was later guillotined for the crime.