Blanche Monnier

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Blanche Monnier
Blanche Monnier, 1901.jpg
Blanche Monnier, shortly after being discovered in the room in which she was secretly incarcerated
Born(1849-03-01)1 March 1849
Died13 October 1913(1913-10-13) (aged 64)
Other namesla Séquestrée de Poitiers
Known forHaving been secretly incarcerated

Blanche Monnier (1 March 1849 – 13 October 1913), often known in France as la Séquestrée de Poitiers, was a woman from Poitiers, France, who was secretly kept locked in a small room by her mother for 25 years. Monnier had, according to officials, not seen sunlight for her entire captivity.[1]


Monnier was a French socialite from a well-respected family in Poitiers, France. In 1876, at the age of 25, she wanted to marry a lawyer who was not to her mother's liking. Her mother argued that Monnier could not marry a “penniless lawyer”. Her disapproving mother locked her in a tiny room in the attic of their home, where she kept her secluded for 25 years. Her mother and brother continued on with their daily lives, pretending to mourn her loss. None of her friends knew where she was and the lawyer she wished to marry eventually died in 1885. On 23 May 1901, the Paris Attorney General received an anonymous letter that revealed the incarceration.[a] Monnier was rescued by police from appalling conditions, covered in food and feces, with bugs all around the bed and floor, weighing barely 50 pounds (23 kg).[2][3]

Her mother was arrested, became ill shortly afterwards, and died 15 days later after seeing an angry mob gather in front of her house. Her brother Marcel Monnier appeared in court, and was initially convicted, but later was acquitted on appeal; Marcel Monnier was mentally incapacitated, and although the judges criticized his choices, they found that a "duty to rescue" did not exist in the penal code at that time.[2][4]

After she was released from the room, Monnier continued to suffer from mental health problems that soon led to her admission to a psychiatric hospital in Boisé, France, where she died in 1913.[5]


  • In 1930, André Gide published a book about the incident, named La Séquestrée de Poitiers, changing little but the names of the protagonists.[2][6] According to Hervé Guibert this book was a great influence on the young Michel Foucault.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ “Monsieur Attorney General: I have the honor to inform you of an exceptionally serious occurrence. I speak of a spinster who is locked up in Madame Monnier’s house, half-starved and living on a putrid litter for the past twenty-five years – in a word, in her own filth.”
  1. ^ Vivi, Janouin-Benanti. La Séquestrée De Poitiers: Une Affaire Judiciaire Sans Précédent (in French) ISBN 978-2914474009
  2. ^ a b c Pujolas, Marie (27 February 2015). "En tournage, un documentaire sur l'incroyable affaire de "La séquestrée de Poitiers"" (in French). France Télévisions.
  3. ^ "Jacques Pradel et RTL reviennent sur l'incroyable histoire de la Séquestrée de Poitiers" (in French). Charente Libre. 19 May 2015.
  4. ^ Moreillon, Laurent. L'infraction par omission, Librairie Droz, 1993, p. 65, (in French)
  5. ^ "Pascal Audoux dévoile les mystères du Loir-et-Cher" (in French). La Nouvelle Republique. 25 April 2015.
  6. ^ Levy, Audrey (21 April 2015). "Destins de femmes: Ces Poitevines plus ou moins célèbres auront marqué l'Histoire" (in French). Le Point.
English sources

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