Swiss-born French Revolutionary leader, physician, and journalist. He was elected to the National Convention in 1792, where, as leader of the radical Montagnard faction, he carried on a long struggle with the right-wing Girondins, which resulted in their overthrow in May 1793. In July he was murdered in his bath by Charlotte Corday, a Girondin supporter.
Marat was born in Boudry, Neuchâtel, in Switzerland. After studying medicine in Bordeaux, France, he lived in the Netherlands and practised as a doctor in England. During the Revolution, he founded the radical paper L'Ami du Peuple and also edited Le Journal de la République française. Marat was a fervent anti-royalist, and led demands for the execution of the king.
While working in England, Marat published a number of philosophical and scientific works, including ‘Philosophical Essay on Man’ (1773) and The Chains of Slavery (1774). His growing reputation as a physician led to his appointment in 1777 as doctor to the guards of the Comte d'Artois. He was later imprisoned several times for his revolutionary principles, and while hiding in the Paris sewers from his royalist pursuers contracted a painful skin disease, which was only relieved by long periods of immersion in a bath. In 1792 Marat was instrumental in the arrest and execution on trumped-up charges of the leading chemist Antoine Lavoisier, in revenge for Lavoisier's earlier veto of Marat's application for membership of the French Academy of Sciences.