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Francisco Ferrer Guardia (1859-1909)

  • January 10, 1859: Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia (known most widely as Francisco Ferrer) is born in Alella, a small Catalan town 12 miles outside Barcelona. His parents are devout Catholics and own a small vineyard.
  • 1874: He begins working in a firm in Barcelona. The firm's owner influences Ferrer greatly with his own radical politics
  • 1879: Ferrer is now an anti-clerical Republican and a member of the Freemasons (a group that traditionally engaged in political conspiracy in Spain)
  • 1880s: He gets a job as a railway employee, between Barcelona and the French border, to support the radical Republican leader Manuel Ruiz Zorilla, a former Prime Minister of Spain in the 1870s. Zorilla was living in exile in Paris and Ferrer served as an escape valve for Spanish political dissidents and a courier to the Spanish military (whom Zorilla was courting in hopes of a Republican coup).
  • 1886: Ferrer engages in an failed Catalan uprising, supporting the Republic declared by General Villacampa
  • 1886: He flees to Paris and is made Secretary to Ruiz Zorilla
  • 1890s: He begins to drift away from Republican politics and begins teaching. It is during this time also that he starts calling himself a "Philosophical Anarchist", influenced by his friendship with Anselmo Lorenzo and his readings of Kropotkin.
  • 1901: He returns to Barcelona and founds la Escuela Moderna (the modern school). The school's first students were 12 girls and 18 boys of varying ages
  • 1902: The school had doubled in size
  • 1904: There were upwards of 50 modern schools in Spain (mostly in Catalonia) and a small publishing house founded by Ferrer which distributed small, easy to read, pamphlets about modern science and culture to peasants and workers. This was all made possible by a small fortune Ferrer inherited from an elderly Parisian student of his, named Mlle. Ernestine Meunier.
  • 1906: One of staff at the modern school, Mateo Morral, throws a bomb at King Alphonso XIII. The attempt fails and Morral commits suicide. The government blames Ferrer and jails him, even though Morral had stated his opposition to Ferrer's peaceful agenda.
  • 1907: Ferrer is kept in jail while the police apparently gathered incriminating evidence against the educator. The original modern school failed and closed during this time. Ferrer is eventually acquitted, there being no legitimate connection between him and the assassination attempt.
  • 1908: Ferrer writes and publishes The Origins and Ideals of the Modern School, upon his release from prison.
  • 1909: Working Class riots take place in Barcelona (known as Tragic Week), in response to Spain's colonial expansion into Morocco and the troop escalations that came with it. After the riots were finally put down by army reserves from neighboring cities (the Catalan troops refused to fire upon their Barcalonean compatriots), martial law was declared and thousands of Spaniards were arrested and indicted in military courts. Although Ferrer was nowhere near Barcelona, he was tried as the leader of the riots and sentenced to death.
  • October 13, 1909: Ferrer is shot to death by a firing squad.

    Biography from UCSD


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