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Federica Montseny

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Federica Montseny

Federica Montseny Mañé
Minister of Health and Social Policy
In office
4 November 1936 – 17 May 1937
Preceded by José Tomás y Piera
Succeeded by Jesús Hernández Tomás (Health) y Jaime Aiguadé y Miró (Social Policy)
Personal details
Born (1905-02-12)12 February 1905
Madrid, Spain
Died 14 January 1994(1994-01-14) (aged 88)
Toulouse, France
Spouse(s) Josep Esgleas Jaume
Children Vida Esgleas Montseny
Germinal Esgleas Montseny
Blanca Esgleas Montseny

Federica Montseny Mañé (Catalan: ; 12 February 1905 – 14 January 1994) was a Spanish anarchist, intellectual and Minister of Health during the social revolution that occurred in Spain parallel to the Civil War. She is also known as a novelist and essayist.

Early years

Federica Montseny Mañé was born on 12 February 1905 in Madrid, Spain. Montseny was, in her own words, the daughter of a family of old anarchists; her father was the anti-authoritarian writer and propagandist Juan Montseny Carret (alias Federico Urales); and her mother, Teresa Mañé Miravet (alias Soledad Gustavo), was herself an anarchist activist. Her parents were the co-editors of the anarchists journal, La Revista Blanca (1898–1905). In 1912 her parents returned to their native Catalonia and later they established a publishing company specialized in libertarian literature.

Montseny joined the anarchist labor union CNT (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo) and wrote for anarchist journals such as Solidaridad Obrera, Tierra y Libertad and Nueva Senda. In 1927 Montseny joined the Federación Anarquista Ibérica (FAI).

With Josep Esgleas Jaume (alias Germinal Esgleas), she had three children: Vida (1933), Germinal (1938) and Blanca (1942).

Spanish Civil War and Minister of Health

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".[1] 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.[2] She was one of the first female ministers in Western Europe (but preceded by Danish Minister of Education, Nina Bang and Miina Sillanpää of Finland), and as minister she aimed to transform public health to meet the needs of the poor and working class. To that end, she supported decentralized, locally responsive and preventative health care programs that mobilized the entire working class for the war effort. She was influenced by the anarchist sex reform movement, which since the 1920s had focused on reproductive rights, and was minister in 1936 when Dr. Félix Martí Ibáñez, the anarchist director general of Health and Social Assistance of the Generalitat de Catalunya, issued the Eugenic Reform of Abortion, a decree effectively making abortion on demand legal in Catalonia.

Given her family's libertarian tradition, the decision to enter the Popular Front government was especially difficult. Although joining the government was a move encouraged by the anarcho-syndicalist Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT), this collaboration with the government in order to present a united front to the Fascist threat posed by Francisco Franco's rebel armies, was widely questioned during and long after the war was over. Notably, she was involved in polemics with Emma Goldman, and the recipient of the harsh criticism in Camillo Berneri's open letter of 1937. For many anarchists, the topic of collaboration – with both Marxists and governments – is still a contentious one.


Frederica Montseny speaks at the historical meeting of the CNT in Barcelona on 1977, the first one after 36 years of dictatorship in Spain.

She moved to France in 1939 where she wrote many books, only a fraction of which were political. Although she returned to Spain in 1977, she died on 14 January 1994 in Toulouse, at 88.



  • 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

  • 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)

References and sources

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Federica Montseny at BiblioRomance
  • Beevor, Antony. The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939. London. Penguin Books. 2006 ISBN 0-14-303765-X
  • Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. 2003. London. ISBN 978-0-14-101161-5

External links

  • Federica Montseny's works and biography
  • Centre Federica Montseny
  • large collection of anarchist posters from the Spanish Civil War (click Buscar)
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