1768 – 1793 A.D.
Charlotte Corday, a French heroine. Intellectual, vehement and enthusiastic, she was a republican in feeling, and entertained the mot exalted ideas of the duties of patriotism. The assignation of her lover by a mob, the tragic fate of the Girondists, and other victims of the Revolution, filled Charlotte with horror, and on the morning of July 9, 1793, she suddenly left her house of her aunt in Caen, on pretext of a journey to England. On the 11th she was in Paris, where she took a room, not far from the dwelling of Marat, who was then the most popular and most blood-thirsty of the leaders in the Reign of Terror.
For a time her mind was undecided as to whether Marat or Robespierre should fall, when Marat’s journal, L’Ami du Peuple, in which he said that 200,000 more heads must be lopped off in order to secure the success of the Revolution, fixed her determination.
She addressed a letter to Marat, soliciting and audience, in order to acquant him with the plots of the Girondists at Caen. After some difficulty she gained admittance to him, and as he listened to her report of the proceedings of the Girondists, he took down their names, and remarked with a smile, “Within a week they will all go to the guillotine.”
Drawing a knife which she had concealed in her bosom, she plunged it to the hilt in Marat’s heart. She was immediately arrested and transferred to the Abbaye prison. Her trial took place on the morning of July 17, she was sentenced to death, and guillotined the evening of the same day.
Her courage did not forsake her for a moment, and she declared she killed one man in order to save a hundred thousand. Her remarkable beauty and her lofty bearing on her way to the scaffold sent a thrill even through the hearts of her executioners.
A young enthusiast, Adam Lux, at the execution cried out, “She is greater than Brutus.” He wrote a pamphlet suggesting that a statue with such an inscription should be erected to her memory, for which he as arrested and guillotined. André Chénier, who paid a glowing poetical homage to her heroism, share the same fate.
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.