Charlotte corday

Charlotte corday

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Title: Charlotte Corday in Caen in 1793.

Author : ROBERT-FLEURY Tony (1838 - 1911)

Date shown: 1793

Dimensions: Height 210 - Width 125

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas.

Storage location: Bonnat Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - R. G. Ojeda

Picture reference: 99-012295 / CM177

Charlotte Corday in Caen in 1793.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - R. Ojeda

Publication date: December 2008

Historical context

The conflict between the Girondins and the Montagnards at the Convention

Created on September 20, 1792 to succeed the Legislative Assembly, the Convention was dominated from its inception by clashes between the Gironde party and the Mountain party. Everything seemed to oppose these two factions: the Girondins, from the provincial bourgeoisie of the large coastal ports and led by Brissot, Vergniaud, Pétion and Roland, showed themselves attached to economic liberalism and, displaying moderate positions, were reluctant to take any measures exception to save the republic; the Montagnards, on the contrary, so called because they sat on the highest benches of the assembly, were distinguished by their positions much more radical and hostile to the monarchy. Dominated by Robespierre, Danton, Marat and Saint-Just and relying on the people, they defended the egalitarian claims of the sans-culottes and were the first to demand the investigation of the king's trial and the relentless war against the enemies of inside.

Image Analysis

Charlotte Corday and the assassination of Marat

The first period in the history of the Convention, from September 21, 1792 to June 2, 1793, was marked by this rivalry between Girondins and Montagnards. If, at its beginnings, the Convention was predominantly Girondine, with around 150 deputies, the Montagnards reached their peak in the spring of 1793, with three hundred deputies. The Gironde, very weakened by its lack of unity during the king's trial and by military setbacks (second invasion, royalist uprising in the Vendée), continues its fight against the Mountain by arresting one of its main leaders , Jean-Paul Marat, April 13, 1793, but the latter was soon acquitted and triumphantly returned to the Convention. Definitely out in the minority, the Gironde cannot avoid the insurrection which shakes Paris from May 31 to June 2 and which consecrates its fall. Declared under arrest, some deputies however managed to leave Paris for Caen, where they called for an uprising in the province against the Convention.

This is where the character of Charlotte Corday (1768-1793) comes in. Originally from the Pays d'Auge, descendant of Pierre Corneille, Marie-Anne-Charlotte de Corday d'Armont was in her youth a boarder at the Abbaye aux Dames de Caen, where she received a careful education and read the philosophers of the Enlightenment such as Montesquieu or Rousseau. The abolition of religious orders decreed on July 12, 1790 by the law on the Civil Constitution of the Clergy forced her to return to her father, far from Caen. But in early June 1791, she returned to live with her aunt in Caen, where she became interested in new ideas, in particular political and social questions. This is what this full-length portrait suggests which shows her meditative, with an open book in her hand, her gaze lost in the vagueness, and which was produced by Tony Robert-Fleury, a 19th century academic painter specializing in historical compositions and the portraits. In June 1793, Charlotte Corday rubbed shoulders with the Girondins in exile in Caen, who held assemblies to call for a federalist insurrection against the Convention. On July 9, she left Caen for Paris and, on July 13, went to Marat's home, after having sent him two letters. Believing him primarily responsible for the elimination of the Gironde, she stabs him in his bath. Arrested immediately, Charlotte Corday was tried by the Revolutionary Court and executed on the scaffold on July 17, at the age of twenty-five, thus becoming a legend of famous assassins in history.


The final elimination of the Gironde

Like many other women during the Revolution, Charlotte Corday wanted to intervene in political life, through her presence at the Girondins' meetings and through her act which was intended to end the civil war which was ravaging France: "I killed one man to save a hundred thousand, ”she told her judges. The assassination of the "Friend of the People" Marat made her look like a fanatic monster in the eyes of the revolutionaries, who refused to give women a place in politics, fearing outbursts of violence. Moreover, in spite of her gesture, Charlotte Corday could not save the Girondins: the rebellion of the federalist provinces was severely repressed by the Convention, which made hunt and arrest the Girondins outside the law. These, including Brissot and Vergniaud, were tried on October 30, 1793 by the Revolutionary Tribunal and guillotined the next day. Those who escaped arrest lived in hiding until they were finally recalled to the Convention by the decrees of 18 Frimaire and 18 Ventôse Year III (8 December 1794 and 8 March 1795). This elimination of their main adversaries allowed the Montagnards to establish in the name of "public safety" and "general safety" a more radical repressive policy, based on Terror and economic interventionism, in order to face the dangers which threatened the Republic inside and outside its borders.

  • women
  • revolutionary figures
  • portrait
  • Corday (Charlotte)
  • Pétion de Villeneuve (Jérôme)
  • Montesquieu (Charles Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède and)


Jean-Denis BREDIN, "You only die once "Charlotte Corday, Paris, Fayard, 2006. Marie-Paule DUHET, Women and the Revolution, 1789-1794, Paris, Gallimard, coll. "Archives", 1979.Dominique GODINEAU, Citizen knitters. Women of the people in Paris during the French Revolution, Aix-en-Provence, Alinéa, 1988, 2nd ed., Paris, Perrin, 2003. Bernardine MELCHIOR-BONNET, Charlotte corday, Paris, Perrin, 1972, reissued 2000. Jean-René SURATTEAU and François GENDRON, Historical Dictionary of the French Revolution, Paris, P.U.F., 1989. Jean TULARD, Jean-François FAYARD and Alfred FIERRO, History and dictionary of the French Revolution, Paris, Laffont, 1987.

To cite this article

Charlotte DENOËL, "Charlotte Corday"

Video: Charlotte Corday - Partie 4


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