Marat, Jean Paul

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Marat, Jean Paul

(zhäN pōl märä`), 1743–93, French revolutionary, b. Switzerland. He studied medicine in England, acquired some repute as a doctor in London and Paris, and wrote scientific and medical works (some in English), but was frustrated in his attempts to win official recognition for his work. His Philosophical Essay on Man (1773) was attacked by Voltaire for its extreme materialism. When the Revolution began (1789), he founded the journal L'Ami du peuple, in which he vented his bitter hatred and suspicion of all who were in power. Outlawed for his incendiary diatribes and calls for violence, he twice fled to England (in 1790 and the summer of 1791). He continued to publish his paper in secret and successfully attacked Jacques Necker, the marquis de Lafayette, the commune, the comte de Mirabeau, the émigrés, and, finally, the king. Marat's inflammatory articles helped foment the Aug. 10, 1792, uprising and the September massacres (see French RevolutionFrench Revolution,
political upheaval of world importance in France that began in 1789. Origins of the Revolution

Historians disagree in evaluating the factors that brought about the Revolution.
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). In Aug., 1792, he was elected (1792) to the Convention. There he led the attack against the GirondistsGirondists
or Girondins
, political group of moderate republicans in the French Revolution, so called because the central members were deputies of the Gironde dept. Girondist leaders advocated continental war.
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. He was stabbed to death (July 13) in his bath by Charlotte CordayCorday, Charlotte
(Marie Anne Charlotte Corday d'Armont) , 1768–93, assassin of Jean Paul Marat. Although of aristocratic background, she sympathized with the Girondists in the French Revolution and felt that Marat, in his persecution of the Girondists, was acting as the
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, a royalist sympathizer. As a revolutionary martyr he was the subject of many tributes, most strikingly the famous death portrait of Jacques-Louis DavidDavid, Jacques-Louis
, 1748–1825, French painter. David was the virtual art dictator of France for a generation. Extending beyond painting, his influence determined the course of fashion, furniture design, and interior decoration and was reflected in the development of
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. Selections from his writings have been published as Textes choisis (1945).


See studies by L. R. Gottschalk (1967) and J. Censer, Prelude to Power (1976).

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