Militant and woman of letters, nicknamed “The Red Virgin of the Commune”
Born 29 May 1830 in Vroncourt-la-Côte (Haute-Marne), died 9 January 1905 in Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône); fighter for the Paris
Commune, then anarchist militant.
Louise Michel was born at the Château de Vroncourt on 29 May 1830 to a governor, Charles-Étienne Demahis – or, more probably,
his son – and young servant Marianne Michel. Little Louise grew up at the château with her mother, coddled by the lord and lady of
the house, whom she called grandfather and grandmother. Louise received a liberal upbringing and a good education in these
Voltairian surroundings. She turned out to have a lively, mischievous personality and, above all, revealed an unusually altruistic spirit
at a very early age – she relieved every form of human and animal wretchedness that she encountered and distributed her
possessions, the money her grandfather gave her (and the money she took from him!) to the poor.
Upon completing her schooling in Chaumont, she was awarded the certificate qualifying her to work as a schoolteacher. However,
she refused to swear the oath of allegiance to the Empire and decided instead to open a free school in Audeloncourt (Haute-Marne)
Three years later, Louise Michel moved to Paris and took up teaching there.
Louise Michel then embarked on an extremely active career as writer, versifier – she sent a number of poems to Victor Hugo – and
contributor to opposition journals. A police report dated 5 April 1883 states that Louise Michel began taking part in the political
movement early in 1869.
Louise Michel devoted herself unstintingly to the cause and was propagandist, 61st Battalion guard and stretcher bearer all at the
same time, ever concerned the while with education issues. She proclaimed her allegiance to the anarchist movement up to her