Biography of Charles Maurras (1868-1952)

Political and writer French, born the 20 of April of 1868 in Martigues (Provence) and dead the 16 of November of 1952 in Saint-Symphorien, near Tours. It was the main ideologist and organizer of the movement Action Française, whose ultranationalist, anti-democratic and anti-Semitic ideas constituted an immediate precedent for the European fascist movements of the 1920s.

He was born in a well-to-do family of railway Catholic and royalist convictions. He/She studied literature and classical languages in the College of the sacred heart of in Aix-en-Provence, in his native region. In 1880, when he/she was twelve years old, suffered a serious illness that left him deaf in life. Maurras took refuge since in reading and writing, giving in to the study of classical philosophers and poets. In 1886 he/she began working as a journalist.

In 1891 he/she moved to Paris, where shortly after he/she founded, together with the poet Jean Moréas, called "Roman school" (École romaine). This circle of young poets, emerged as a reaction to the dominant symbolism in French letters, claimed the return to the Classicist aesthetic. Maurras exhibited their aesthetic ideas in his work Anthinea (1901), a tour of the classical art through an imaginary journey through Greece. But, as a literary creator, Maurras had been known much earlier, with the publication in 1895 of Le Chemin du paradis (Paradise Road), a collection of philosophical stories. In 1902 he/she published Les amants de Venise (Venice lovers), work in prose that chronicled the love affair between the writers George Sand and Alfred de Musset, through a bitter dissection of the romantic conception of love. In 1925 he/she published his essay barbarism et Poésie (barbarism and poetry), where he/she exposed a critical view of romanticism and a vehement advocacy of literary classicism. In the same year published his poetry collection Musique interieur (inner music), their most successful production.

In the case of Maurras, there is no distinction between his literary work and his political activism. The first was deeply marked by the second, which led him to confront the most important political and artistic personalities of his time and liberal currents that furrowed the social scene of the French third Republic. From his early years in Paris he/she began to develop a system of political philosophy that mixed notions of Roman order, Greek harmony and contemporary positivist thought spuriously. During the social controversy that provoked the affaire Dreyfus (the impeachment of an official Jewish of course spy that shook French society, in 1894, polarizing political views among ultraconservative and anti-Semitic right and an openly social democratic left), Maurras was declared as a recalcitrant monarchist and a convinced enemy of the Jews.

In June 1899 he/she founded, along with other authors of his rope policy, such as Auguste Maurice Barrès, the Group L'Action française and the eponymous magazine, from whose leaves spread the ideology of "integral nationalism" maurriano: the authoritarian power of a monarchical State, Defense wishful thinking of national interests in the international context and a violent anti-Semitism, seasoned with a good dose of anti-clericalism. Indeed, Maurras lost early the faith that had been instilled in its infancy, adopting, in return, a front hostility to the influence of the Church in society. It faced on numerous occasions the ecclesiastical authorities, who, in 1926, included five of his books on the index of prohibited works and condemned l'action française.

In 1908 the magazine became a rotating daily, thanks to the support of the also writer Léon Daudet. Since then, he/she acted as unofficial organ of the royalist party and of the French far right. For four decades, l'action française was one of the main focuses of political upheaval in France, where he/she created a climate of exacerbated opposition to the constitutional regime which contributed no little to destabilize it. To small, virulent disputes unleashed by the newspaper were followed public demonstrations and turbulent political trials against collaborators.

Between 1900 and 1909 Maurras nationalist, composed his Enquête sur monarchie (survey of the monarchy), work in which defended the restoration of a monarchy strongly with clear references to the model of the German Reich II. This book, along with L 'avenir de l' intelligence (the future of intelligence), published in 1905, make up the sum of the political thought of Maurras. Both exerted an enormous influence on the ideology of the French right in the following decades and, hence, on the thought of nationalist and far-right politicians in Europe. In Spain, José Calvo Sotelo founded the magazine Acción Española fascist ideology inspired by its French equivalent.

During the interwar period (1919-1940), Maurras was expressed publicly in favor of a strong alliance with the Fascist Italy of Mussolini, in order to curb German expansionism. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, openly supported the rebel fascist side. In 1936-1937 he/she was imprisoned by his threats to a group of parliamentary Democrats.

During the German occupation of France, he/she collaborated with the Vichy Government, led by Marshal Pétain, who became Advisor. Maurras was confident that the new regime would end the democracy of the third Republic and would serve to launch its monarquico-nacionalista project, under the protection of the Third Reich of Adolf Hitler. When France was liberated by the Allied troops in 1944, Maurras was arrested and tried for treason. Found guilty of the charge of intelligence with the enemy, he/she was sentenced to life imprisonment and interned in Tours. In 1952 his sentence was revised due to his precarious health, and was allowed to live under police custody at a clinic near tours. He/She died soon after, at the age of 84, after belatedly have been reconciled with the Church.

His last works were: Dictionnaire politique et critique (political and critical dictionary, 1934), month Idées politiques (my political ideas, 1937) and l'Ordre et le Désordre (the order and disorder, 1948). His memoirs, Au signe de Flore (under the sign of Flora) appeared in 1931. In 1954 the four volumes collecting his complete works were published in Paris.


JOSEPH, r. and J. FORGES. Charles Maurras. Paris, 1953.

MASSIS, H. The intellectual life of France in times of Maurras. Madrid, 1956.

MOURRE, M. Charles Maurras. Paris–Brussels, 1953.