Théodule Meunier

Last updated

Théodule Meunier (August 22, 1860 in Bournezeau, France July 25, 1907 in Cayenne, French Guiana) was a French anarchist who, along with Emile Henry and Auguste Vaillant, was responsible for a series of bombings in Paris, France during early 1892. The three specifically targeted both civilian and government buildings which included boulevard cafes, the homes of magistrates, police stations and the Chamber of Deputies. [1]

Bournezeau Commune in Pays de la Loire, France

Bournezeau is a commune in the Vendée department in the Pays de la Loire region in western France.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Cayenne Place in French Guiana, France

Cayenne is the capital city of French Guiana, an overseas region and department of France located in South America. The city stands on a former island at the mouth of the Cayenne River on the Atlantic coast. The city's motto is "fert aurum industria", which means "work brings wealth".


A cabinet maker by trade, Meunier had joined the French anarchist movement during the early 1890s. According to Charles Malato, it was said of Meunier that he was "...the most remarkable type of revolutionary illuminist, an ascetic and a visionary, as passionate for the search for the ideal society as Saint-Just, and as merciless as seeking his way towards it."

Anarchism in France can trace its roots to thinker Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who grew up during the Restoration and was the first self-described anarchist. French anarchists fought in the Spanish Civil War as volunteers in the International Brigades. According to journalist Brian Doherty, "The number of people who subscribed to the anarchist movement's many publications was in the tens of thousands in France alone."

Charles Malato (1857–1938) was a French anarchist and writer.

During the trial of the notorious anarchist known as Ravachol, Meunier set off a bomb at the Lobau Barracks, the site of the Communard massacres, on 15 March 1892. On 25 April, the day before Ravachol was to be sentenced, the Cafe Very in which Ravachol was arrested was also bombed killing the owner and a customer as well as injuring numerous others. [2] [3] Seeking asylum in Great Britain, like other contemporaries such as Jean-Pierre François he lived as a political refugee in London for a time [4] before his eventual arrest by Scotland Yard detective William Melville at London Victoria station on 4 April 1894. [5]

Ravachol French anarchist

François Claudius Koenigstein, also known as Ravachol (1859–1892), was a French anarchist. He was born on 14 October 1859, at Saint-Chamond, Loire and died by being guillotined on 11 July 1892, at Montbrison after being twice found guilty of complicity in bombings.

Communards Wall monument in Paris

The Communards’ Wall at the Père Lachaise cemetery is where, on May 28, 1871, one-hundred and forty-seven fédérés, combatants of the Paris Commune, were shot and thrown in an open trench at the foot of the wall. To the French left, especially socialists and communists, the wall became the symbol of the people's struggle for their liberty and ideals. Many leaders of the French Communist Party, especially those involved in the French Resistance, are buried nearby.

Great Britain island in the North Atlantic off the north-west coast of continental Europe

Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of 209,331 km2 (80,823 sq mi), it is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island, and the ninth-largest island in the world. In 2011, Great Britain had a population of about 61 million people, making it the world's third-most populous island after Java in Indonesia and Honshu in Japan. The island of Ireland is situated to the west of Great Britain, and together these islands, along with over 1,000 smaller surrounding islands, form the British Isles archipelago.

Extradited to France in June, Meunier was tried the following month and sentenced to life imprisonment in a penal colony in Cayenne. He would remain there for 14 years until his death in 1907, following a failed escape attempt. He had been in correspondence with fellow French anarchist Jean Grave the previous year and, in one letter expressed no remorse for his crimes stating "I only did what I had to do. If I could start over again, I would do the same thing." [6]

Penal colony remote settlement used to house convicts from the general population

A penal colony or exile colony is a settlement used to exile prisoners and separate them from the general population by placing them in a remote location, often an island or distant colonial territory. Although the term can be used to refer to a correctional facility located in a remote location it is more commonly used to refer to communities of prisoners overseen by wardens or governors having absolute authority.

Jean Grave French anarchist

Jean Grave was an important activist in the French anarchist and the international anarchist communism movements. He was the editor of three major anarchist periodicals, Le Révolté, La Révolte and Les Temps Nouveaux, and wrote dozens of pamphlets and a number of important anarchist books.

He was used as the main antagonist of detective Sherlock Holmes in René Réouven's 1985 novel L'Assassin du Boulevard. [7]

An antagonist is the character in a story who is against the protagonist.

Sherlock Holmes fictional private detective created by Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes is a fictional private detective created by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Referring to himself as a "consulting detective" in the stories, Holmes is known for his proficiency with observation, forensic science, and logical reasoning that borders on the fantastic, which he employs when investigating cases for a wide variety of clients, including Scotland Yard.

Related Research Articles

Peter Kropotkin Anarcho-Communist philosopher

Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin was a Russian activist, revolutionary, scientist, geographer and philosopher who advocated anarcho-communism.

Propaganda of the deed is specific political action meant to be exemplary to others and serve as a catalyst for revolution.

Anarchism in the UK initially developed within the context of radical Whiggery and Protestant religious dissent. During the English Civil War and the industrialisation English anarchist thought developed in the context of revolutionary working class politics.

Anarchists have employed certain symbols for their cause, including most prominently the circle-A (Ⓐ) and the black flag (⚑), although anarchists have historically largely denied the importance of symbols to political movement. Since the revival of anarchism around the start of the 21st century and concurrent with the rise of the anti-globalization movement, anarchist cultural symbols are widely present.

Luigi Galleani Italian insurrectionary anarchist (1862–1931)

Luigi Galleani was an Italian anarchist active in the United States from 1901 to 1919. He is best known for his enthusiastic advocacy of "propaganda of the deed", i.e. the use of violence to eliminate those he viewed as tyrants and oppressors and to act as a catalyst to the overthrow of existing government institutions. From 1914 to 1932, Galleani's followers in the United States, carried out a series of bombings and assassination attempts against institutions and persons they viewed as class enemies. After Galleani was deported from the United States to Italy in June 1919, his colleagues are alleged to have carried out the Wall Street bombing of 1920, which resulted in the deaths of 38 people.

Anarchism has long had an association with the arts, particularly with visual art, music and literature.

Marius Jacob French anarchist

Alexandre Jacob, known as Marius Jacob, was a French anarchist illegalist. A clever burglar equipped with a sharp sense of humour, capable of great generosity towards his victims, he became one of the models for Maurice Leblanc's character Arsene Lupin.

The Walsall Anarchists were a group of anarchists arrested on explosive charges in Walsall in 1892.

Russian anarchism is anarchism in Russia or among Russians. The three categories of Russian anarchism were anarcho-communism, anarcho-syndicalism and individualist anarchism. The ranks of all three were predominantly drawn from the intelligentsia and the working class, though the anarcho-communists – the most numerous group – made appeals to soldiers and peasants also.

Anarchism in Canada spans a range of anarchist philosophy including anarchist communism, green anarchy, anarcho-syndicalism, individualist anarchism, as well as other lesser known forms. Canadian anarchism has been affected by thought from the United States, Great Britain, and continental Europe, although recent influences include a look at North American indigenism, especially on the West Coast. Anarchists remain a focal point in media coverage of globalization protests in Canada, mainly due to their confrontations with police and destruction of property.

Anarchism in Argentina

The Argentinian anarchist movement was the strongest such movement in South America. It was strongest between 1890 and the start of a series of military governments in 1930. During this period, it was dominated by anarchist communists and anarcho-syndicalists. The movement's theories were a hybrid of European anarchist thought and local elements, just as it consisted demographically of both European immigrant workers and native Argentinians.

L'En-Dehors is a French individualist anarchist newspaper, created by Zo d'Axa in 1891.

Zo dAxa French adventurer and writer

Alphonse Gallaud de la Pérouse, better known as Zo d'Axa, was a French adventurer, anti-militarist, satirist, journalist, and founder of two of the most legendary French magazines, L'EnDehors and La Feuille. A descendant of the famous French navigator Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse, he was one of the most prominent French individualist anarchists at the turn of the 20th century.

Major Sir Nicholas Gosselin was an Irish military officer and intelligence agent.

Anarchism is a political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, or harmful. However, others argue that while anti-statism is central, it is inadequate to define anarchism solely on this basis. Therefore, they argue instead that anarchism entails opposing authority or hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations, including, but not limited to, the state system. Proponents of this form of anarchism advocate stateless societies based on non-hierarchical free associations.

The Fenian dynamite campaign was a bombing campaign orchestrated by Irish republicans against the British Empire, between the years 1881 and 1885. The campaign was associated with Fenianism; that is to say the Irish revolutionary organisations which aimed to establish an independent Irish Republic; such as the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Fenian Brotherhood, Clan na Gael and the United Irishmen of America. The campaign, led by Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa and other Irishmen exiled in the United States, was a form of asymmetrical warfare and targeted infrastructure, government, military and police targets in Great Britain. The campaign led to the establishment of secret police group Special Branch.

Anarchism in French Guiana has a short, and little recorded, history. The only continental territory in Latin America to remain a colony into the 21st century, Guiana has not seen the same political developments as most other countries in the region. Still, anarchism has existed to some degree, mainly through the presence of political prisoners deported to the colony. In the modern era, anarchism has had a minor presence in the Guianan political milieu.

There is a brief history of anarchism in Singapore. In contemporary times, there is little or no presence of the ideology in the country.

The Bresci Circle was a group of New York City anarchists remembered for a failed bombing attempt on St. Patrick's Cathedral in 1915, in which two of its members were arrested. The group was named after Gaetano Bresci, a New York anarchist who killed King Umberto I of Italy.


  1. Porter, Bernard. The Origins of the Vigilant State: The London Metropolitan Police. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell & Brewer, 1991. (p. 101) ISBN   0-85115-283-X
  2. Pyle, Christopher H. Extradition, Politics, and Human Rights. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001. (pg. 107) ISBN   1-56639-823-1
  3. Chaliand, Gérard and Arnaud Blin. The History of Terrorism: From Antiquity to Al Qaeda. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 2007. (pg. 157) ISBN   0-520-24709-4
  4. Porter, Bernard (May 2005). "Political refugees in Britain, 1826-1905". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  5. Porter, Bernard. The Origins of the Vigilant State: The London Metropolitan Police. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell & Brewer, 1991. (pg. 197) ISBN   0-85115-283-X
  6. Woodcock, George. Anarchism: A history of Libertarian Ideas and Movements. Toronto: Broadview Press, 2004. (pg. 258-259) ISBN   1-55111-629-4
  7. Enckell, Marianne (2006-09-02). "Anarchism and Literature" (in French). R.A. Forum.