Marie-Anne Charlotte de Corday d'Armont was
born on July 27, 1768, in the village of Les Champeaux, at the
farm of Ronceray, a typically Norman farmhouse that her father
had purchased in 1765. Charlotte was the fourth child of a provincial
noble family. Her mother's name was Charlotte-Marie Gautier des
Authieux; her father was Jacques-Francois de Corday d'Armont.
He was the great-grandson of Marie Corneille, the sister of Thomas
and of Pierre Corneille, the famed playwright.
Charlotte was baptized in the parish church of Saint-Saturnin de Lignerits, close to Les Champeaux, the day after her birth. She grew up at the Manor of Cauvigny and at the Ferme du Bois, both not very far from her birthplace. At the age of eight, Charlotte went to live with her uncle, the Abbot de Corday, who at the time was the parish priest in Vicques. Later on the family moved to Caen, where Charlotte's mother passed away on April 8, 1782. During the springtime of that same year, Charlotte was admitted, along with her sister Eleonore, to the Abbaye aux Dames as a boarding student.
In 1791, after the closing of the Abbaye aux Dames in Caen, Charlotte lived with her cousin, Madame Le Coustellier de Bretteville-Gouville, at 148 of the rue Saint-Jean.As the French Revolution wore on, Charlotte became more and more Republican. She was struck by the Government's exactions against the Girondins (Outlawing of the Girondins - June 2, 1793), who took refuge in Caen. Charlotte no longer believed that a Republic would be possible. She felt that Jean-Paul Marat, who daily demanded more and more heads, was in large part responsible for the misfortunes that the French people were undergoing. She resolved to rid the country of him.On July 9, 1793, Charlotte left her cousin's apartment and took the mail coach for Paris. She stayed at the Hotel de Providence. There she wrote a long text titled Speech to the French who are Friends of Law and Peace, which explained the act she was about to commit.In Paris, on July 13, 1793, Charlotte requested an appointment with Marat at his home at 30, rue des Cordeliers. Marat agreed; by stating that she had "information to give him" and that he could even "render a great service to France", she managed to obtain a meeting with him. The meeting took place in his bathroom; he was in his bathtub. It was there that Charlotte killed him, using a table knife "with a dark wooden handle and a silver ferrule, bought for a few sols at the Palais-Royal".
In the middle of the Terror, the assassination of Jean-Paul Marat, "the Friend of the People", made Charlotte Corday the heroine of the French people. After the event, she was immediately arrested and imprisoned in the Conciergerie. The verdict at her trial left no room for doubt : she was condemned to death. On July 17, 1793, at about seven o'clock in the evening, she walked up the several steps to the scaffold and was guillotined.