Federica Montseny

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Federica Montseny
Frederica Montseny i Mañé
Federica Montseny (1936-1939).jpg
Minister of Health and Social Policy
In office
4 November 1936 – 17 May 1937
Preceded byJosé Tomás y Piera
Succeeded byJesús Hernández Tomás (Health) and Jaime Aiguadé y Miró (Social Policy)
Personal details
Born(1905-02-12)12 February 1905
Madrid, Spain
Died14 January 1994(1994-01-14) (aged 88)
Toulouse, France
Spouse(s)Josep Esgleas Jaume
ChildrenVida Esgleas Montseny
Germinal Esgleas Montseny
Blanca Esgleas Montseny

Federica Montseny Mañé (Catalan: [munˈsɛɲ]; 1905–1994) was a Spanish anarchist and intellectual who served as Minister of Health and Social Policy of the Government of the Second Spanish Republic during the Civil War. She is known as a novelist and essayist and for being one of the first female ministers in Western Europe.

Early life[edit]

Federica Montseny was born on 12 February 1905 in Madrid, Spain. She was the sole surviving child of Joan Montseny and Teresa Mañé, both teachers and anarchists of Catalan extraction. They lived in Madrid because the 1896 Barcelona Corpus Christi procession bombing had led to her father being imprisoned and then exiled. The couple returned to Spain secretly and settled in the capital. From 1898, her parents jointly edited the fortnightly journal La Revista Blanca, one of the most significant anarchist publications of the time. The family put its savings into a house on the outskirts of Madrid. The developer that built the house threatened to sue her father when the latter accused him of stealing from the poor by taking money for houses that were never built. This forced the family to leave and spend the next years moving frequently and surviving occasional writing and farming. During Montseny's childhood, the Civil Guard would frequently visit the family home searching for her father. She would let them in as slowly as possible in order to give him time to hide.[1]

Montseny was educated at home by her parents. After Montseny acquired basic reading and writing skills, her mother used progressive didactic methods to foster Montseny's curiosity, providing her with a wide range of reading material in order to encourage her to pursue her own intellectual interests. Montseny became acquainted with literature as well as social and political theory. She also credits the rural environment she grew up in with shaping her intellectual development. Throughout her life, she would return to nature when grappling with social questions.[2]

She had three children with Germinal Esgleas.[3]

Spanish Civil War and Minister of Health[edit]

Federica Montseny speaks at the historical meeting of the CNT in Barcelona on 1977, the first one after 36 years of the Francoist State.
Federica Montseny Park in Paris

During the Spanish Civil War, Montseny supported the republican government. She rejected the violence in the republican-held territory: "a lust for blood inconceivable in honest man before".[4] In November 1936, Francisco Largo Caballero appointed Montseny as Minister of Health. In doing so, she became the first woman in Spanish history to be a cabinet minister.[5]


In the late 1930s, she and thousands of other Republicans were exiled to Toulouse, France, and only returned to visit Spain in 1977, following Franco's death. She died in Toulouse on January 14, 1994 at the age of 88.[6]


Several streets, parks and schools are named in her memory in Spain, especially in Catalonia, and in cities like Paris.[7]



  • Horas trágicas (1920)
  • Amor de un día (1920)
  • Ana María (1920)
  • El amor nuevo (1920)
  • El juego del amor y de la vida (1920)
  • La mujer que huía del amor (1920)
  • La vida que empieza (1920)
  • Los caminos del mundo (1920)
  • María Magda (1920)
  • Maternidad (1920)
  • Vampiresa (1920)
  • Florecimiento (1925)
  • La victoria (1925)
  • Vida nueva (1925)
  • ¿Cuál de las tres? (1925)
  • Los hijos de la calle (1926)
  • El otro amor (1926)
  • La última primavera (1926)
  • Resurrección (1926)
  • El hijo de Clara (1927)
  • La hija del verdugo (1927)
  • El rescate de la cautiva (1927)
  • El amor errante (1927)
  • La ruta iluminada (1928)
  • El último amor (1928)
  • Frente al amor (1929)
  • Sol en las cimas (1929)
  • El sueño de una noche de verano (1929)
  • La infinita sed (1930)
  • Sonata patética (1930)
  • Pasionaria (1930)
  • Tú eres la vida (1930)
  • El ocaso de los dioses (1930)
  • Aurora roja (1931)
  • Cara a la vida (1931)
  • El amor que pasa (1931)
  • Nocturno de amor (1931)
  • Una mujer y dos hombres (1932)
  • Amor en venta (1934)
  • Nada más que una mujer (1935)
  • Vidas sombrías (1935)
  • Tres vidas de mujer (1937)
  • La indomable (1938)
  • Una vida (1940)
  • Amor sin mañana
  • La rebelión de los siervos
  • La sombra del pasado
  • Martirio
  • Nuestra Señora del Paralelo
  • Sinfonía apasionada
  • Una historia triste

Other works[edit]

  • La mujer, problema del hombre (1932)
  • Heroínas (1935)
  • Buenaventura Durruti (1936)
  • In Memoriam of Comrade Durruti (1936)
  • La voz de la F.A.I. (1936)
  • El anarquismo militante y la realidad española (1937)
  • La incorporación de las masas populares a la historia: la Commune, primera revolución consciente (1937)
  • Anselmo Lorenzo (1938)
  • Cien días de la vida de una mujer (1949)
  • Jaque a Franco (1949)
  • Mujeres en la cárcel (1949)
  • El problema de los sexos: matrimonio, unión libre y amor sin convivencia (1950)
  • Pasión y muerte de los españoles en Francia (1950)
  • María Silva: la libertaria (1951)
  • El Éxodo: pasión y muerte de españoles en el exilio (1969)
  • Problemas del anarquismo español (1971)
  • Crónicas de CNT: 1960-1961 (1974)
  • Qué es el anarquismo (1974)
  • El éxodo anarquista (1977)
  • Cuatro mujeres (1978)
  • Seis años de mi vida (1978)
  • Mis primeros cuarenta años (1987)


  1. ^ Davies 1998, pp. 137–138, Fredericks 1976, p. 72.
  2. ^ Davies 1998, pp. 138–139, Fredericks 1976, p. 72.
  3. ^ Mangini, Shirley; González, Shirley Mangini (1995). Memories of Resistance: Women's Voices from the Spanish Civil War. Yale University Press. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-300-05816-1.
  4. ^ Beevor, Antony (2006). The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War 1936–1939. London: Penguin Books. pp. 87.
  5. ^ Thomas, Hugh (2001). The Spanish Civil War. London: Penguin Books. p. 458. ISBN 978-0-14-101161-5.
  6. ^ "Federica Montseny, Spanish Minister, 88". The New York Times. 1994-01-24. ISSN 0362-4331.
  7. ^ Ayuso, Silvia (2019-08-23). "Los españoles que liberaron París". El País (in Spanish). ISSN 1134-6582. Retrieved 2021-07-30.


  • Beevor, Antony (2006). The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939. London: Penguin.
  • Davies, Catherine (1998). Spanish Women's Writing 1849–1996. London/Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Athlone Press.
  • Fredericks, Shirley F. (1976). "Federica Montseny and Spanish Anarchist Feminism". Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies. 1 (3): 71–80. doi:10.2307/3346171. JSTOR 3346171.
  • Thomas, Hugh (2003). The Spanish Civil War. London: Penguin.

Further reading[edit]

  • Alexander, Robert J. (1999). The Anarchists in the Spanish Civil War. London: Janus.
  • Ealham, Chris (2011). "De la unidad antifascista a la desunión libertaria". Mélanges de la Casa de Velázquez. 41 (1): 121–142. doi:10.4000/mcv.3874.
  • Kern, Robert (1978). Red Years, Black Years: A Political History of Spanish Anarchism, 1911–1937. Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues.
  • Nash, Mary (1975). "Dos intelectuales anarquistas frente al problema de la mujer: Federica Montseny y Lucía Sánchez Saornil". Convivium. 44–45: 121–142.
  • Nash, Mary (1995). Defying Male Civilization: Women in the Spanish Civil War. Denver: Arden Press.
  • Tavera, Susanna (2005). Federica Montseny: La indomable. Madrid: Temas de Hoy.

External links[edit]