Teresa Claramunt

* 1862 (Sabadell) 1931 (Barcelona) Spain
Fields of activity: Anarcho-syndicalist and feminist libertarian movements
Author: María Teresa Ruiz Cantero

Teresa Claramunt

Historical Context

Teresa Claramunt was born in the 19th century, a century of progress driven by the dawning of today’s leading social movements: trades unions and workers’ movements; pacifism and anti-militarism; anti-clericalism; freedom of thought; socialism; anarchism; communism; rationalist education; feminism; birth control; civil marriage and civil funeral rites, among other movements.

Such fresh ideologies attracted hundreds of thousands of men and also many women – people now nameless and forgotten but who suffered innumerable hardships: hunger and extreme poverty; exile; torture; prison; assassination attempts and attempted murder; death sentences; children lost through disease and malnutrition. They all fought to bring humanity “the society of the future, full of justice, equality and liberty.”

The workers’ movements in Spain began with “Las Chnches,” an offensive nickname given to female textile workers. In particular, women workers at the tobacco companies were highly advanced: the first at a civil marriage, the first to encourage major disturbances due to poor working conditions, the first to create mutual support groups – sistership – among themselves in 1834.

With no maternity leave, they battled to avoid giving birth to their children in the factory sick bay, and achieved schools, creches and breastfeeding rooms within the factories.

A Sketched Portrait

With her pleasant appearance and impressive voice, Teresa Claramunt immediately attracted people. A weaver by trade, she was an exceptional worker, not hugely cultured but hugely intelligent. A great speaker, with great power to unite and mobilise people. Teresa was an active writer and editor championing workers’ rights and women’s rights, and her greatest passion was to write in the anarchist press, denouncing the injustices being committed against the working class. A mother of five children who all died before her, she spent half of her life in prison.

Teresa placed special emphasis on defending the values of feminism, fighting for basic needs to be met and fighting against the subordination of women. She organised educational activities for female workers who could neither read nor write and for working mothers. She publicly campaigned for the trades unions.

Dubbed “The Red Virgin of Barcelona,” Teresa Claramunt was likened by many of her comrades to Louise Michel, “The Red Virgin of Montmartre”, and heroine of the anarchist Paris Commune, educator of the people, feminist and one of the foremost figures of French anarchism.


1883: Joined her first strike, demanding 10-hour working days.

1884: Played a decisive role in founding the “Sección Abierta de Trabajadores Anarquista-Colectivistas de Sabadell (Cataluña)” (Open Section of Anarchist-Collectivist Workers in Sabadell [Catalonia])” to aid the emancipation of workers of both sexes.

1888 and 1889: Forced into exile in Portugal.

1892: Encouraged the creation of Spain’s first feminist association – the “Asociación de Mujeres Autónomas de Barcelona” (Autonomous Women’s Association of Barcelona) – together with Ángeles López de Ayala and Amalia Domingo.

1893: Arrested following the explosion of a bomb and anarchist attacks on the Liceo de la Ópera theatre in Barcelona.

1896: Wrote the play "El mundo que muere y el mundo que NACE" (“The Dying World and the World being BORN”), which was first performed in Barcelona.

Teresa was rearrested during the crackdown by the Process of Montjuic, a military tribunal set up following the terrorist attack on the Corpus Christi procession in Barcelona on 7th June 1896, which left 12 people dead and some 35 wounded. She was brutally beaten, and suffered from the after-effects for the rest of her life. The crackdown on anarchism mostly affected Catalonian workers, with around 400 imprisoned in the Castle of Montjuic and 87 tried before the military court.

1898: Tried and deported to England, despite being accused of no crime.

1901: With the rise of anarchism, founded the magazine “El Productor” (The Producer).

1902: During the long worker’s march at the Teatro del Circo theatre in Barcelona (16th February), she appealed for solidarity with the metalworkers who were on strike, which was one of the basic reasons for the general strike in Barcelona (17th to 24th February).

Teresa went on a campaign tour around Andalucía, which terminated with her arrest in Ronda and subsequent expulsion from Málaga. Over the following years, she participated in numerous campaign tours, forever demonstrating her great ability to unite and mobilise people.

1905: Wrote the pamphlet "La Mujer: Consideraciones generales sobre apoyo ante las prerrogativas del hombre" (“Women: General Considerations on Support in the Face of Male Prerogatives”), published in the periodical “El Porvenir del Obrero” (The Worker’s Future), in which she argued in favour of women’s rights to participate in social, political and economic life.

1907-1908: Wrote for the magazines “La Tramuntana” (The Tramontane) and “La Revista Blanca” (The White Review) and edited the periodicals “El Rebelde” (The Rebel), “La Anarquía” (Anarchy),”El Porvenir del Obrero” plus the English publication Freedom.

1909: Arrested again following the events of Tragic Week in Barcelona (August) and held in Zaragoza, where she helped to organise the “Movimiento Anarco-sindicalista Aragonés” (Anarcho-Syndicalist Movement of Aragon).

1911: Boosted local syndicates’ affiliation with Spain’s “Confederación Nacional del Trabajo” (National Labour Confederation). Her home was a space for young anarchists, and she had a profound influence upon the members of anarchist group Crisol (Melting Pot).

1923: While she was very ill, her apartment was searched by the police, who were after Crisol for their attack on Cardinal Juan Soldevila y Romero in Zaragoza. The police were seeking evidence against Teresa, but… they failed to search the bed she lay in, in which the weapons were hidden.

1924: Teresa returned to Barcelona, but progressive paralysis curbed her participation in public activities.

1929: She took part in her last ever political demonstration.

1931: Teresa died on the morning of 11th April, one day before the Spanish people elected new municipal representatives. She was buried on 14th April, the very day on which the Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed. There was a huge anarchist demonstration in Barcelona and the Republican flag flew freely in the city for the first time ever – and it did so at half mast in memory of Teresa Claramunt.

1933: Clara Campoamor said “The Spanish people voted in governmental elections, thanks to arguments put forward by a woman”.