Biography of Francisco Ferrer i Guardia (1859-1909)

Pedagogue and Spanish political activist, born in Alella (Barcelona) in 1859, and died October 13, 1909, which was the founder of the modern school and pedagogic rationalism who introduced in our country.

Belonging to a wealthy and Catholic roots peasant family, his academic training did it as an autodidact. In 1873 he/she settled in Barcelona, where he/she worked in a trading house and infected the political environment which then encouraged the Catalan cenacles. Librepensadoras ideas soon led to anarchism, trend that developed a great activity as a revolutionary and agitator. In addition, it was always characterized by the vehemence with which spread their anti-clerical messages.

In 1878 he/she began working as a reviewer for the railway lines that joined Barcelona with France, allowing him to become the mail claiming the contact between the Spanish revolutionaries and the exiled President of the Republican Government of Manuel Ruiz Zorrilla. In 1886, he/she participated in the hint of Republican pronouncement in Santa Coloma de Fernes, carried out by brigadier Villacampa. After the failed attempt, Ferrer i Guàrdia was able to elude justice and exile in Paris, city in which discovered his pedagogic vocation and developed a brilliant career in front of the school lay itself had been founded, which won international prestige as a freethinking pedagogue and enemy of the obscurantism which at the time dominated the religious in Spain teaching. At the same time, related to outstanding leaders anarchists of the moment, like Elisée recluse, malate and Peter Kropotkin and was amassing a not declining Fortune enabling him to hold without any troubles a hectic love life - one more facet of his curious personality. During his French exile, until the year 1901, Ferrer i Guàrdia entered in one of the branches of French Freemasonry, Le Grand Orient de France.

At the same time, feeding from Paris a facet of revolutionary activist although it was not well regarded by the more orthodox sectors of Spanish anarchism, materialized in the financial support it provided to the cause. In 1901, thanks to the heritage that left him on the death of Ernestine Mennier - a Parisian old rich that had given kinds of Spanish since 1894-, a considerable fortune in goods movable and real estate to Ferrer i Guàrdia, with the purpose of funding the establishment of a rationalist school on his return to Spain. that had been student, returned to Barcelona, where it was installed and nature letter gave some of their most ambitious projects. Thus, he/she created the modern school, institution from which began sow their fruitful seed secular and anti-clerical, founded a publishing house closely linked to its educational project and was the editor of the anarchist newspaper La General strike, work which contributed significantly to the strengthening of the catalan anarchist syndicalism.

Its risky financial operations - came to speculate on stock exchange - were not well seen by the bases of revolutionary anarchism, while the profits obtained by Ferrer and guard served to finance armed actions such as the attack Alfonso XIII (1905) and the attempted regicide that starred Mateo Morral - Professor of the modern school of Barcelona - Madrid on April 12, 1906 in Paris. After the suicide of backpack, and the subsequent police investigation, Francisco Ferrer was declared an accomplice to the attempted regicide and subsequently arrested, but was released in 1907, since no conclusive evidence against him gathered. However, the modern school was closed by Government order in 1907, who encouraged him to undertake a tour of several European cities, which embodied the victims of furious Spanish ecclesiastical power, already marked as a dangerous man for the central Government, more and more radical and reactionary attitude.

He moved to Paris to collaborate, together with several relevant anarchists, as Laissant, Carlos Albert, Eugenio Fourniére, malate, etc, in the Foundation of the Ligue internationale pour l´education l´enfance rationale. The primary goal of the League was to continue in Europe pedagogical work begun in Barcelona by Ferrer i guard, for which a Committee was established international, chaired by own Ferrer i Guàrdia, as well as the Foundation of a magazine, the secular school, which was cut by the same ideological pattern as its previous publications.

Due to its gradual proximity with unionists revolutionary elements of Barcelona, Ferrer i Guardia was distancing from Alejandro Lerroux, leader of the radical Republicans.

In June of the year 1909, of returning to Spain, he/she decided to organize a general strike in defence of prisoners of Alcalá del Valle; but the call did not have the desired effect to the Amnesty Maura to convicted persons. When in July of that year broke out which would later be known as Setmana tràgica, Ferrer and guard was immediately associated with it, and even it was responsible of the violent events that during those days, although it had remained all the time on his farm of Montgat.

He was accused arrested by the somatenistas and tried by a military court, he/she was found guilty of being the perpetrator of the burning of the convent of Premià, and sentenced to the death penalty, without procedural safeguards nor the evidence adduced against leave no doubt feeling that justice had been done. In the political class, appalled by the virulence of those who had taken the right to exercise repression, not won any voice that upon against the condemnation of the exalted anarchist, even among the circles of the official left, where had Ferrer by the head of the facts that against him. However, the international left asked the Government of Maura the commutation of sentence, appeal that was constantly ignored. The really painful trial were multiple full of resentment and false testimonies made against him by his political enemies who saw the opportunity to get rid of a political opponent of the likes of Ferrer i Guàrdia. The hearing and the testimony of all persons who could prove his innocence was banned in the trial.

So, at dawn on October 13, 1909 Francisco Ferrer and guard was led to the gallows and executed meanly on behalf of a so dubious legality that had not even been able to guarantee the cleaning of its processing. Tells that it demanded that no should be dressed her eyes, and that, shortly before the voices of "fire!", approached the soldiers who formed the platoon, ordered them to that target well, reminded them that they killed an innocent, and exclaimed: "Viva la modern school".

The embarrassing trial and subsequent execution of Ferrer i Guàrdia prompted an international campaign of rallies and demonstrations in all the major European capitals and that he/she caught by surprise the Spanish Government, causing such a crisis than his Prime Minister Antonio Maura, was forced to resign, which brought him the final departure from active politics.

Ferrer i Guàrdia left writings quite a few books and articles, among which highlight titles as L´espagnol practice (1895), de par la méthode Ferrer (1895), the deadly sins (1900), atheist tale (1900), Ferrer and the General strike (1909). After his death the following posthumous publications were published: the modern school (1910), posthumous explanation (1910) and scope of rationalist education (1910).


CAMBA BASSOLS, Jordi. Anarchism and positivism: the Ferrer case. (Madrid: Ed. Centro Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1981).

DELGADO raised, Buenaventura. The modern school of Ferrer i Guàrdia. (Barcelona: Ed. Ceac, 1979).

GROUP 13, 16. Ferrer i Guàrdia and typical censorship in 1909. (Madrid: Ediciones de la Torre, 1990).

MONES, Jordi. Ferrer i Guàrdia and libertarian pedagogy: elements for a debate. (Barcelona: Icaria Ed., 1980).

OLIVÉ SERRET, Henry I. Ordinary trial before the military courts in the square of Barcelona against Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia. (Palma de Mallorca: Ed. Ediciones Cort, 1977).