Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Charlotte Corday and the French Revolution

As the French Revolution unfolded between the years 1789 and 1794, a lot changed in France. Along with political upheaval, the Catholic church was also regulated to the sidelines. Baptism of infants was replaced by a ceremony of dedication. Men wore long pants. Women dressed in simple styles, and even bricks from the former Bastille were sold as doorstops.

This past year, I had the opportunity to re-visit Paris. This time, I was able to see the small soldiers that were played with by the Dauphin (the crown prince) while he was locked in the Temple. Later, he would die from horrific abuse and neglect after his mother, Marie Antoinette was executed.

My favorite person on the French Revolution was a 19 year old girl named Charlotte Corday. She was a royalist who hailed from the Vendee region of France, a region that was deeply Catholic and against the excesses of the revolution. She chose to assassinate Marat, who died holding a list of proposed victims. After stabbing Marat while he lay in his bathtub, she was apprehended and quickly executed. Charlotte Corday remained a favorite subject of many artists. My granddaughter, Charlotte, is named after this French Revolution heroine.