The Tragic Story of Blanche Monnier, Who Locked Away From Society for 25 Years

Young and attractive, Blanche Monnier was a French socialite from Poitiers who had a knack for the piano. She had everything: reputation, wealth, and a promising future.

Her downfall was falling in love with a penniless lawyer, whom her mother, Madame Louise Monnier, deemed unworthy of her daughter. Instead of letting Blanche marry the lawyer, Louise locked her away from the public and her lover.

For 25 years, many in town thought Blanche had run away, died, or been institutionalized. The truth was far more sinister.

Authorities received an anonymous letter revealing that Blanche was locked away on the third floor of her family home, beaten, starved, and living in squalor.

Her mother claimed Blanche had locked herself in the bedroom, but the courts disagreed. Although Blanche was freed from a life of filth and abuse, she was never able to return to her former self.

This is the story of Blanche Monnier, a young woman whose autonomy was taken away by her controlling mother for 25 years.

Who Was Madame Blanche Monnier?

Blanche was born on March 1, 1849, in Poitiers, France, to Emile and Louise. The family, together with her elder brother Marcel, resided in a posh neighbourhood.

The Monnier family was well-known and respectable, coming from old money. They were integral in establishing the town of Poitiers and maintained a reputation as distinguished members of society.

The Monniers lived in a luxurious three-story manor, except for the constant screaming that could be heard from inside. Louise, the matron, was a hothead and a tyrant. She was powerful and wealthy, and everyone in Poitiers knew never to cross her. She got into heated arguments with the servants and her family, especially Blanche.

Blanche was gentle, playful, and good-natured but too outspoken for her social standing, according to Louise. Louise believed Blanche needed to change her attitude to find a suitable husband.

Despite this, Blanche was remarkably beautiful and attracted many suitors. By her early 20s, many young men tried to court her, but she wasn’t in a rush to get married.

A Socialite In Love

Despite her mother’s frustration, Blanche rejected many proposals until she met an older, penniless lawyer. Though her mother forbade it, Blanche continued seeing him secretly.

However, rumors about Blanche and the lawyer began to spread. At the time, it was scandalous for a woman to be alone with a man late at night.

In March 1875, Blanche returned home after a date with the lawyer. Louise was waiting for her. Blanche wouldn’t walk out again for another 25 years.

A Family Secret

People began to wonder where Blanche Monnier was. Some thought she had gone to a finishing school, while others believed she had been institutionalized.

Blanche’s lawyer lover questioned her whereabouts and was told by her family that she had gone insane. He died never knowing the truth.

Life went on without Blanche, until one day in 1901, the Attorney General of France received an anonymous letter. It stated that Blanche was locked up in Madame Monnier’s house, half-starved, and living in filth.

Investigators were skeptical but decided to look into the claims. When they arrived at the Monnier manor, they noticed a boarded-up window on the third floor. Inside, they were greeted by a foul smell of urine and feces, which grew stronger as they went up the stairs.

At the top of the stairs, they found a padlocked bedroom door. Inside, they found a frail woman lying in bed, cowering. It was Blanche Monnier.

A Shocking Discovery At Monnier Manor

The once beautiful socialite was now a frail 50-year-old woman, covered in excrement, extremely malnourished, with matted hair. A witness described the scene:

“The unfortunate woman was lying completely naked on a rotten straw mattress. All around her was a crust made from excrement, fragments of meat, vegetables, fish, and rotten bread. Oyster shells and bugs ran across her bed. The air was unbreathable, and the odor was so rank that we couldn’t stay to investigate.”

Blanche had been locked away for 25 years, surviving off food scraps. The floorboards and bedpost were rotting. She was rushed to the hospital, weighing only 56 lbs.

The Aftermath

Louise Monnier and her son Marcel were arrested. Louise claimed Blanche had locked herself in the bedroom, refusing to leave. She passed away from heart failure after spending an evening in prison.

Marcel knew what was happening but claimed Blanche chose to stay in her bedroom. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison but was later acquitted.

While Blanche survived, she was never the same. She spent the rest of her days in a sanitarium, struggling until her death on October 13, 1913, at the age of 64, just over a decade after being rescued.

IMC Global

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