Charlotte Corday


Charlotte Corday
Charlotte Corday

Hauer, Jean-Jacques, Charlotte Corday 
Born Marie-Anne Charlotte de Corday d'Armont
27 July 1768
Saint-Saturnin-des-Ligneries, Ecorches, Orne, Normandy, France
Died 17 July 1793(1793-07-17) (aged 24)
Paris
Cause of death Decapitation by guillotine
Known for A figure of the French Revolution, executed for the assassination of Jean-Paul Marat
Religion Roman Catholic
Parents Jacques François de Corday, seigneur d'Armont
Charlotte Marie Jacqueline Gaultier de Mesnival

Marie-Anne Charlotte de Corday d'Armont (27 July 1768 – 17 July 1793), known to history as Charlotte Corday, was a figure of the French Revolution. In 1793, she was executed under the guillotine for the assassination of Jacobin leader Jean-Paul Marat, who was in part responsible, through his role as a politician and journalist, for the more radical course the Revolution had taken. More specifically, he played a substantial role in the political purge of the Girondins, with whom Corday sympathized. His murder was memorialized in a celebrated painting by Jacques-Louis David which shows Marat after Corday had stabbed him to death in his bathtub. In 1847, writer Alphonse de Lamartine gave Corday the posthumous nickname l'ange de l'assassinat (the Angel of Assassination).

Contents

Biography

Born in Saint-Saturnin-des-Ligneries, a hamlet in the commune of Écorches (Orne), in Normandy, France, Charlotte Corday was a member of a minor aristocratic family. She was a fifth-generation matrilineal descendant of the dramatist Pierre Corneille. Her parents were cousins.[1]

While Charlotte was a young girl, her mother, Charlotte Marie Jacqueline Gaultier de Mesnival and her older sister died. Her father, Jacques François de Corday, seigneur d'Armont (1737–1798), unable to cope with his grief over their death, sent Charlotte and her younger sister to the Abbaye-aux-Dames convent in Caen, where she had access to the abbey's library and first encountered the writings of Plutarch, Rousseau and Voltaire.[2]:154–5 After 1791, she lived in Caen with her cousin, Madame Le Coustellier de Bretteville-Gouville. The two developed a close relationship and Corday was the sole heir to her cousin's estate.[2]:157

Marat's assassination

Baudry, Paul Jaques Aimé (1860) : under the Second Empire, Marat was seen as a revolutionary monster and Corday as a heroine of France, represented in the wall-map.

Jean-Paul Marat was a member of the radical Jacobin faction which had a leading role during the Reign of Terror. As a journalist, he exerted power and influence through his newspaper, L'Ami du peuple ("The Friend of the People").

Corday's decision to kill Marat was stimulated not only by her revulsion at the September Massacres, for which she held Marat responsible, but for her fear of an all-out civil war.[2]:161 She believed that Marat was threatening the Republic, and that his death would end violence throughout the nation. She also believed that King Louis XVI should not have been executed.[2]:160

David (1793), The Death of Marat 

On 9 July 1793, Corday left her cousin, carrying a copy of Plutarch's Parallel Lives, and went to Paris, where she took a room at the Hôtel de Providence. She bought a kitchen knife with a six-inch blade. She then wrote her Addresse aux Français amis des lois et de la paix ("Address to the French people, friends of Law and Peace") to explain her motives for assassinating Marat.

She went first to the National Assembly to carry out her plan, but discovered that Marat no longer attended meetings. She went to Marat's home before noon on 13 July, claiming to have knowledge of a planned Girondist uprising in Caen; she was turned away. On her return that evening, Marat admitted her. At the time, he conducted most of his affairs from a bathtub because of a debilitating skin condition. Marat wrote down the names of the Girondists that she gave to him, then she pulled out the knife and plunged it into his chest, piercing his lung, aorta and left ventricle.[citation needed] He called out, Aidez-moi, ma chère amie! ("Help me, my dear friend!") and died.

This is the moment memorialised by Jacques-Louis David's painting (illustration, right). The iconic pose of Marat dead in his bath has been reviewed from a different angle in Baudry's posthumous painting of 1860, both literally and interpretively: Corday, rather than Marat, has been made the hero of the action.

Trial and execution

Gillray, James (1793) (Caricature), Corday's trial 

At her trial, Corday testified that she had carried out the assassination alone, saying "I killed one man to save 100,000." It was likely an allusion to Maximilien Robespierre's words before the execution of King Louis XVI. On 17 July 1793, four days after Marat was killed, Corday was executed under the guillotine and her corpse was disposed of in the Madeleine Cemetery.

After her decapitation, a man named Legros lifted her head from the basket and slapped it on the cheek. Charles-Henri Sanson, the executioner, indignantly rejected published reports that Legros was one of his assistants. However, Sanson stated in his diary that Legros was in fact a carpenter who had been hired to make repairs to the guillotine.[3] Witnesses report an expression of "unequivocal indignation" on her face when her cheek was slapped. This slap was considered unacceptable and Legros was imprisoned for three months because of his outburst.[4]

Michelena, Arturo (1889), Charlotte Corday being conducted to her execution 

Jacobin leaders had her body autopsied immediately after her death to see if she was a virgin. They believed there was a man sharing her bed and the assassination plans. To their dismay, she was found to be virgo intacta (a virgin), a condition that focused more attention on women throughout France—laundresses, housewives, domestic servants—who were also rising up against authority after having been controlled by men for so long.[5]

The assassination did not stop the Jacobins or the Terror: Marat became a martyr, and busts of him replaced crucifixes and religious statues that had been banished under the new regime.

Hair and controversy

Soon after her death, controversy arose surrounding the color of Corday's hair. Although her passport, filled out and signed by a Caen official, described her hair as chestnut brown, the painting "The Murder of Marat" by Jean-Jacques Hauer portrays Corday with powdered blonde hair. Following Corday's execution and the popularity of Hauer's painting, stories quickly spread about how Corday had hired a local coiffeur to straighten and lighten her hair.[6] Although this story rapidly became popular in Paris at the time,[citation needed] there is no historical evidence to support that it actually happened. Part of the reason for the discrepancy in descriptions of Corday can be attributed to the stigma attached to powdered hair. At the time, only nobility and royalty ever powdered their hair, and in that time of violent anti-royalist revolt, such an association could be powerful in influencing popular opinion.[7]

Cultural references

Delpech, François-Séraphin, Charlotte Corday 
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote about her in his Posthumous Fragments of Margaret Nicholson (1810).
  • Alphonse de Lamartine devoted to her a book of his Histoire des Girondins (1847), in which he gave her this now famous nickname: "l'ange de l'assassinat" (the angel of assassination).
  • Italian composer Lorenzo Ferrero (1951– ) composed an opera in three acts Charlotte Corday, which was premièred at Teatro dell'Opera di Roma in February, 1989.
  • In Peter Weiss's Marat/Sade, the assassination of Marat is presented as a play, written by the Marquis de Sade, to be performed by inmates of the asylum at Charenton, for the public; the patient performing the role of Corday in the play-within-a-play (Glenda Jackson in the stage production and subsequent film adaptation) is, somewhat ironically, a narcoleptic.
  • American dramatist Sarah Pogson Smith (1774–1870) also memorialised Corday in her verse drama The Female Enthusiast: A Tragedy in Five Acts (1807).
  • A minor character in P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves series is named after Charlotte Corday.
  • British singer-songwriter Al Stewart included a song co-written by Tori Amos about Corday on his album Famous Last Words (1993).
  • In Katherine Neville's novel The Eight, Charlotte Corday changes place with the heroine Mireille, who kills Jean-Paul Marat for revenge.
  • French dramatist François Ponsard (1814–67) wrote a play, Charlotte Corday, which was premièred at the Théâtre-Français in March, 1850.
  • Charlotte appears briefly but significantly, in Caen, in A Far Better Rest, by Susanne Alleyn, a reimagining of A Tale of Two Cities.
  • Drieu La Rochelle wrote a play in three acts called Charlotte Corday in 1939. In was performed in southern France during World War II. Corday is depicted as a fervent republican who hopes eliminating Marat will save the revolution and prevent it from degenerating into tyranny.
  • A novel by the English writer Fife, Graeme (2009), Angel of the Assassination, USA: Merit Publishing , tells Charlotte's story.
  • The historical-fiction "My Bonny Light Horseman", part of the Bloody Jack series by L.A. Meyer, references a Jean-Paul de Valdon, who claims to be the cousin of Charlotte Corday

Notes

  1. ^ "Charlotte Corday" (in French), Encyclopedie, FR: Larousse, http://www.larousse.fr/encyclopedie/article/Charlotte_Corday/11022708 .
  2. ^ a b c d Whitham, John Mills (1968), Men and Women of the French Revolution, Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press .
  3. ^ (in French) La Révolution française vue par son bourreau : Journal de Charles-Henri Sanson, Documents, Monique Lebailly, preface, Le Cherche Midi, 2007, p. 65, ISBN 978-2-7491-0930-5 ; idem, Griffures, Paris: Éditions de l'Instant, 1988, ISBN 978-2869291287 .
  4. ^ Mignet, François (1824), History of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1814 .
  5. ^ Corazzo, Nina; Montfort, Catherine R (1994), "Charlotte Corday: femme-homme", in Montfort, Catherine R, Literate Women and the French Revolution of 1789, Birmingham, AL: Summa Publications, p. 45 .
  6. ^ Loomis, Stanley (1964), Paris in the Terror, p. 125 .
  7. ^ Rattner Gelbart, Nina (2004), "The Blonding of Charlotte Corday", Eighteenth Century Studies, Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press .

Further reading

  • Mazeau, Guillaume (2009), Le bain de l'histoire. Charlotte Corday et l'attentat contre Marat (1793–2009), Champ Vallon: Seyssel .
  •      (2009), Corday contre Marat. Deux siècles d'images, Versailles: Artlys .
  •      (2006), Charlotte Corday en 30 Questions, La Crèche, Geste éditions .
  • Corday, Charlotte, L’Addresse aux Français amis des lois et de la paix [Address to French friends of the Law and Peace] .
  • Loomis, Stanley (1964), Paris in the Terror, JB Lippincott .
  • Franklin, Charles (1967), Woman in the Case, New York: Taplinger .
  • Goldsmith, Margaret (1935), Seven Women Against the World, London: Methuen .
  • Sokolnikova, Halina (1932), Nine Women Drawn from the Epoch of the French Revolution, trans. H C Stevens, Cape, NY .
  • Corazzo, Nina, and Catherine R. Montfort (1994), "Charlotte Corday: femme-homme", in Montfort, Catherine R, Literate Women and the French Revolution of 1789, Birmingham, AL: Umma Publications .
  • Gutwirth, Madelyn (1992), The Twilight of the Goddesses; Women and Representation in the French Revolutionary Era, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press .
  • Kindleberger, Elizabeth R (1994), "Charlotte Corday in Text and Image: A Case Study in the French Revolution and Women's History", French Historical Studies, 18, pp. 969–99 .
  • Outram, Dorinda (1989), The Body and the French Revolution: Sex, Class and Political Culture, New Haven: Yale University Press .
  • Whitham, John Mills (1968), Men and Women of the French Revolution, Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press .
  • Alstine, RK van (2008), Charlotte Corday, Kellock Robertson Press, ISBN 978-1409796589 .

External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Charlotte Corday — par Jean Jacques Hauer Nom de naissance Marie Anne Charlotte de Corday d’Armont Na …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Charlotte Corday — Charlotte Marie Anne Corday Jacques Louis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Charlotte Corday — Marie Anne Charlotte Corday d Armont, conocida como Charlotte Corday o (en textos en español de la época y posteriores) como Carlota Corday (Saint Saturnin des Ligneries, 27 de julio de 1768 París, 17 de julio de 1793), fue un personaje… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Charlotte Corday — Charlotte de Corday d Armont, más comunmente conocida como Charlotte Corday, nació el 27 de julio de 1768 en Saint Saturnin des Ligneries. Hija de François de Corday d Armont, gentilhombre de provincias de humilde fortuna, y de Jacqueline… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Charlotte Corday — noun French revolutionary heroine (a Girondist) who assassinated Marat (1768 1793) • Syn: ↑Corday, ↑Marie Anne Charlotte Corday d Armont • Instance Hypernyms: ↑revolutionist, ↑revolutionary, ↑subversive, ↑subverter …   Useful english dictionary

  • Marie Anne Charlotte Corday d'Armont — Charlotte Marie Anne Corday Jacques Louis David: Der Tod des Marat …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Operation Charlotte Corday — Attentat du Petit Clamart L’attentat du Petit Clamart, désigné par ses auteurs sous le nom d’opération Charlotte Corday, est le nom d une action d un groupe dirigé par le lieutenant colonel Bastien Thiry, visant à assassiner le président Charles… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Opération Charlotte-Corday — Attentat du Petit Clamart L’attentat du Petit Clamart, désigné par ses auteurs sous le nom d’opération Charlotte Corday, est le nom d une action d un groupe dirigé par le lieutenant colonel Bastien Thiry, visant à assassiner le président Charles… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Opération Charlotte Corday — Attentat du Petit Clamart L’attentat du Petit Clamart, désigné par ses auteurs sous le nom d’opération Charlotte Corday, est le nom d une action d un groupe dirigé par le lieutenant colonel Bastien Thiry, visant à assassiner le président Charles… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Marie Anne Charlotte Corday d'Armont — noun French revolutionary heroine (a Girondist) who assassinated Marat (1768 1793) • Syn: ↑Corday, ↑Charlotte Corday • Instance Hypernyms: ↑revolutionist, ↑revolutionary, ↑subversive, ↑subverter …   Useful english dictionary


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