Jean-Paul Marat was born on May 24th, 1743 in Boudry, Switzerland. He studied medecine first in France and then in Great Britain before settling in Paris in the employ of the Count of Artois. He had published various scientific papers and political tracts in which he suggested that insolence of the rich and the despotic nature of the state. When the revolution came he quickly joined the fray and founded a newspaper, l'Ami du Peuple (the Friend of the People), intending to denounce scoundrels and traitors. He got into legal trouble for his attacks on some people though, including Necker and La Fayette, and had to leave the country for England.
A regular at the Club des Cordeliers, Marat's revolutionary zeal reached new heights after the flight to Varennes and the shooting in the Champs-de-Mars. He continued to harang nobles and priests and won the adoration of the people through his sense of injustice for this disenfranchised and disinherited group.
Marat was delighted when the Tuileries fell in August 1792, partly because he had actively encouraged such a revolutionary uprising in his paper. It was exactly this kind of incendiary revlolutionary raving that created the atmosphere of hate which surrounded the September Massacres.
Marat was elected to the Convention, backing the radical Commune of Paris and the Montagne against the moderate Girondins. But his vitriolic diatribes and bedraggled appearance earned him little love amongst his chosen allies and he remained marginal in the Convention. After the fall of the king, Marat concentrated his energies on the Girondins and he soon found himself accused and brought before the revolutionary tribunal. He was saved by his popularity with the Paris Commune and he returned in triumph to the Convention.
The moment he returned to the benches of the National Convention Marat redoubled his accusations and verbal attacks against his enemies there. On July 13th, not long after the Girondins were proscribed from the Convention en masse, a young woman named Charlotte Corday, an ardent Girondin supporter, came to Paris from Bordeaux especially to murder the man she considered personally responsible for the worst atrocities of the revolution. She was in turn beheaded.
This entry is part of the French Revolution University Project.