Charlotte Corday

Album: Famous Last Words (1993)


  • This is a song about a repentant murderess. Charlotte Corday was sent to the guillotine in 1793 for the murder of Jean-Paul Marat. Marat started life as a physician and philosopher but moved into politics and was briefly one of the most influential men in France during the Revolution. He was something of a moderate, certainly in comparison with many of those shedding blood around him.

    Marie-Anne-Charlotte de Corday d'Armont came from an aristocratic though far from wealthy family. Like not a few before her and like countless assassins since, she thought the murder of one powerful politician would make the world a better place. On July 9, she traveled to Paris where she checked into an hotel and in an eerie echo of suicide bombers two centuries later, wrote an address to the people of France in which she explained why she was carrying out the act. Murat suffered from scrofula, an unpleasant skin complaint, and spent a lot of time in his bath to alleviate it, routinely receiving guests in this surreal setting. On July 13, Charlotte bluffed her way into his apartment where he received her in his usual fashion, and where she stabbed him to death. She made no attempt to escape the inevitable consequences, was tried in haste and executed four days later. The real Charlotte Corday showed no remorse for her crime, and went to her own death with stoicism. Stewart believes or would like to believe otherwise, and has her ghost wandering abroad seeking absolution.
  • Tori Amos co-wrote this song with Stewart.

Comments: 1

  • Sundae from Southampton, NyCharlotte Corday was not repentant, and she didn't have any reason to be. Marat was bloodthirsty and riled the citizens of Paris into a frenzy.
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