Charlotte Corday’s will, a subject of contention between the State and the Norman communities

The manuscript written by Charlotte Corday auctioned by the Osenat auction house in Versailles, near Paris.

The appointment of Charlotte Corday’s will with justice will have waited two hundred and thirty years. This handwritten letter, found in the bodice of the 24-year-old Norman after she had assassinated the revolutionary Marat, in her bathtub, on July 13, 1793, had quickly disappeared from the procedural file. But there is a good chance that it will come back today in the hands of a judge.

Because it is at the heart of a conflict between local Norman communities and the State. This historic document, where Charlotte Corday, guillotined four days after her arrest, protests against the deviation of the Revolution by a brutal power, was acquired by the Normandy region, the Calvados departmental council and the town hall of Caen, Sunday June 11, for 271,000 euros at auction. The State had however asked them not to intervene, because it wanted to acquire the letter itself.

Read also: “The Bath of History. Charlotte Corday and the attack on Marat (1793-2009)”, by Guillaume Mazeau: Charlotte Corday, contested icon of the Revolution

Today, the State is surprised that the auctioneer has maintained the sale. But’Address to the French remains however for the moment in the trunk of this one. The Interministerial Service for the Archives of France must, ” in the coming days “, formalize with the seller his request for restitution. Because for the entourage of the Minister of Culture, Rima Abdul-Malak, the document, “having been seized to be placed in the procedural file” by Charlotte Corday, then “fraudulently subtracted”is however “became a public, inalienable and imprescriptible archive”.

“Disregard for communities”

Local communities do not hear it that way. Hervé Morin, president (Les Centristes) of the Normandy region, Jean-Léonce Dupont, president (Union of Democrats and Independents) of the Calvados departmental council, and Joël Bruneau, mayor (Les Républicains) of Caen, warned, Friday, June 16 , that they would attack the official request for a “claim” of the State before the administrative judge. Mr. Morin is surprised that Paris has not “not claimed this piece for a long time”. According to the president of the Normandy region, in fact, “He had two chances to do it, in the last ten years, and he did nothing”. It was after the local authorities became interested in the document that, “by a rather extraordinary phenomenon, the State services are waking up”.

Read also: Posterity of a stab

However, he objects, the State made a commitment in 2016 in a document relating to “the claim of the public archives” to abstain “to exercise the right to claim in relation to documents already placed on public sale, once it had been able, at the time of this sale, to check the nature of these documents under the legal conditions provided for by the code heritage ». This is the case of Charlotte Corday’s will, which had already been sold at an auction in November 2022.

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