Incredible story of 19th century socialite who was kept prisoner for 25 years by her mother for wanting to marry the wrong man
Blanche Monnier was just like every other 25-year-old in 1876 France, trying to settle down before she ran out of time. She met and fell in love with an older broke lawyer who her aristocratic mother didn’t approve of. One day Blanche vanished without a trace, her mother and brother went through the motions, mourned for her and carried on with life. But they held a terrible secret, Blanche was locked up in the attic, living in her own filth.
On may 23rd 1901, the office of The Attorney General of Paris received an anonymous letter which read : ‘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’.
Shocked by the letter, police decided to investigate the estate despite Monnier’s family sterling reputation. A group of officers broke into the house, searched the premises and upstairs noticed a padlocked door. When they removed the lock, a horrifying smell filled their noses.
They were met by a most astonishing sight, a malnourished woman weighing just 55 pounds, covered in bits of food and faeces squinted at them as she beheld the light and humans she had not set eyes on for 25 years.
A witness described the gruesome discovery:
‘The unfortunate woman was lying completely naked on a rotten straw mattress. All around her was formed a sort of crust made from excrement, fragments of meat, vegetables, fish, and rotten bread.’
‘We also saw oyster shells and bugs running across Mademoiselle Monnier’s bed,’ he went on. ‘The air was so unbreathable, the odor given off by the room was so rank, that it was impossible for us to stay any longer to proceed with our investigation.’
Madame Monnier, who had won an award from the Committee of Good Works for her generous contributions to the city, was immediately arrested.
She died 15 days later after admitting the crime to police.
When her daughter refused to back down on her relationship with the lawyer, Madame Monnier locked her up in a tiny room until she gave in.
For 25 years, Blanche only ate scraps from her mother’s meals. Her punishment continued even after the death of her lover in 1885.
Blanche’s brother Marcel stood trial for helping her mother in the ordeal and was initially sentenced to 15 months in prison. He was later acquitted on claims that Blanche could have left at any time, but chose not to. He walked free to the horror of the crowd in the courtroom.
Blanche Monnier, also known in France as La Séquestrée de Poitiers, died in 1913 in a sanitarium in Bois.
Sourced by Linda Ikeji’s blog