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Jean-Paul Marat

Jean-Paul Marat (May 24, 1743 - July 13, 1793), was a French revolutionary born in Switzerland.

He was a member of the more radical Jacobin faction during the French Revolution, helping to launch The 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 Death of Marat is a famous painting by Jacques-Louis David.

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