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Clemence Louise Michel

paris, montmartre and joined

MICHEL, CLEMENCE LOUISE French anarchist, called la Vierge rouge de Montmartre, was born at the chateau of Vroncourt (Haute-Marne) on May 29, 183o, the daughter of a serving-maid, Marianne Michel, and the son of the house, Etienne Charles Demahis. She was brought up by her father's parents, and received a liberal education. After her grandfather's death in 185o she was trained to teach, but her re fusal to acknowledge Napoleon III. prevented her from serving in a state school. She found her way in 1866 to a school in the Montmartre quarter of Paris, where she threw herself ardently into works of charity and revolutionary politics. During the siege of Paris she joined the ambulance service, and untiringly preached resistance to the Prussians. On the establishment of the Com mune she joined the National Guard. She was with the Com munards who made their last stand in the cemetery of Montmartre, and was closely allied with Theodore Ferre, who was executed in Nov. 1871. This ardent attachment was perhaps one of the

sources of the exaltation which marked her career, and gave many handles to her enemies. When she was brought before the 6th council of war in Dec. 1871 she defied her judges and defended the Commune. She was sent as a convict to New Caledonia, among her companions being Henri Rochefort, who remained her friend till the day of her death.

The amnesty of 188o found her revolutionary ardour unchanged. She travelled throughout France, preaching revolution. For being concerned in a Paris riot in 1883 she was condemned to six years' imprisonment, but was again released in 1886. She was touring France and lecturing on behalf of anarchist propaganda when she died at Marseilles on Jan. io, 1905.


Memoires (i886) contain accounts of her trials. See also E. Girault, La Bonne Louise (1906).