Women in the Paris Commune

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CWF's picture
Joined: 9-09-05
Apr 21 2006 20:16
Women in the Paris Commune

Recently came across this article, and haunting series of photographs, of women Petroleuses (arsonists) during the Paris commune.


Has anyone heard of this before, or have more detail on their idelogical motivations?

Steven.'s picture
Joined: 27-06-06
Apr 22 2006 00:13

Yeah I've heard of them - Louise Michel was famously accused of being one. The idea behind it being that if the govt re-took Paris they'd be none of it left to take. Don't know how many of them there were though, seems like they were a bit demonised, like a more hardcore version of the current casseurs

Joined: 20-04-06
Apr 24 2006 04:42

From what I've read, it's not even certain they existed; there was a lot of paranoia about them though; any woman holding a bottle was suspect. Louise Michel claimed in her court case afterward that the burnings were only a defense aginst the invaders, a wall of fire. There were a few fake documents produced with orders from the Commune to burn everything down.

Red Marriott's picture
Red Marriott
Joined: 7-05-06
Apr 30 2006 16:32

A book exists called The Women Incendaries by Edith Thomas, published in the 60s about these women. I guess it's long out of print; if I remember right it concludes that there's no evidence they were a formal organisation, but that women were heavily involved in the Commune as nurses, canteen workers, soldiers etc - and arsonists.