Jean-Paul Marat (May 24, 1743 - July 13, 1793), was a French revolutionary born in Switzerland.
|Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David (1793)|
He was a member of the more radical Jacobin
faction during the French Revolution
, helping to launch the Reign of Terror
. He advocated doing away with the monarchy
and raged against more moderate revolutionary leaders. In July 1790
he wrote "Five or six hundred heads cut off would have assured your repose, freedom and happiness. A false humanity has held your arms and suspended your blows; because of this millions of your brothers will lose their lives". He approved of the September 1792
massacres of jailed "enemies of the Revolution" and established the "Committee of Surveillance" whose role was to rout out antirevolutionaries. Marat composed the death lists from which the innocent and the guilty alike were executed.
He was killed in his bathtub by Charlotte Corday in 1793. Madame Corday was a Girondin and her action provoked reprisals in which thousands of enemies of the Jacobins -- royalists and Girondins alike -- were executed on supposed charges of treason. Corday herself was guillotined on July 17, 1793 for the murder.
The Marquis de Sade, even though detesting the Reign of Terror, wrote an admiring eulogy for Marat.
The Death of Marat is a famous painting by Jacques-Louis David. Peter Weiss wrote a play titled The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat, as performed by the inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the direction of the Marquis de Sade.