A London news report on the execution of Charlotte Corday (1793)


In August 1793, the London Times reported on the burial of Marat and the punishment meted out to his killer, Charlotte Corday:


“Marat’s funeral obsequies were performed on [July] 16th in the evening. A great concourse of citizens, the Convention in a body, the constituted authorities and the popular societies formed the procession, which followed the body in profound silence to the sound of mournful music. The cannon was fired in several quarters of the city. Marat was interred under the trees of the garden of the Convent of Cordeliers at two in the morning. His tomb is a rough stone without any ornament.

In the evening of the 17th, the execution of Charlotte Corday, the assassin of Marat, took place in the Place de la Revolution. Her undaunted composure in her last moments, will serve, perhaps more than her crime, to transmit her name to posterity. During her interrogatory, she astonished her judges and the spectators by her calm, decent and unaffected deportment; and even on the approach of death she expressed herself with the greatest ease and in terms of pleasantry…

She was condemned at three o’clock in the afternoon, after a trial of six hours, to be beheaded at eight o’clock the same evening on the Place de la Revolution… The scene which her execution presented was magnificently awful. The place was thronged with multitudes; and the most feeling minds were excited to behold the Amazonian courage of this unhappy lady in her last moments.

It was with much difficulty that she arrived at the scaffold. The fish women and others belonging to the markets were almost tearing her to pieces, with oaths and imprecations [that were] most horrid. The Gens d’Armes and horse of the Republic prevented this horrid act by galloping up with lifted sabres.

Corday ascended the scaffold with intrepidity. She appeared serene and reconciled to death. She pulled off her bonnet and handkerchief herself, but recoiled when the executioner went to bind her legs, and said, “Are you so bad as to expose me here?” He answered, “No, it is to bind you”. “Do it then,” she replied with firmness.

The inhuman monster, when showing her head to the people after her execution, slapped her twice on the cheek. This was considered as such an atrocious act that the very Tribunal who had condemned her to death sentenced her executioner to 12 years imprisonment in irons.

The corpse of Corday was buried in the churchyard of St. Magdalaine, near the grave of Louis XVI, she having been executed in the same section with the unfortunate monarch.”