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Marat, Jean-Paul (1743–93)

Subject History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405189224.2011.x


radical journalist and popular leader during the french revolution of 1789. Born into a Calvinist family, he pursued a successful medical career under the ancien regime , settling for a time in England and even adopting a “de” to make himself sound more noble. The outbreak of the Revolution provided him with the opportunity to launch a radical daily, L'Ami du peuple (renamed Journal de la République française after the abolition of the monarchy). His espousal of direct democracy, price controls, and the unrestrained use of violence brought him enemies amongst the middle-class leadership of the Revolution, and he was forced into hiding on several occasions. However, his radicalism established his credentials with the sans-culottes and he was elected to the convention in 1792. Marat sided with the Montagnards, his rhetoric serving as a useful safety valve for extremist popular views. His referral to the Revolutionary Tribunal by the girondins helped to provoke their expulsion from the Assembly during the insurrection of May 31-June 2, 1793. He suffered from a debilitating skin ailment that could be relieved only by bathing, and it was while in his bath that he was assassinated by Charlotte Corday, a Girondin sympathizer whose act featured famously in one of Jacques-Louis David's most memorable paintings. Though a revolutionary cult of martyrdom developed in Marat's memory, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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