Family & Parenting

The awful tale of aristocrat Blanche Monnier, locked up for 25 years

There are many stories of young women being kidnapped and locked up by the foulest of men for their own gratification. But what if your kidnapper was your own mother? Aristocrat Blanche Monnier’s story may be over a century old, but that doesn’t make it any less terrifying. 

Finally discovered when she was 50 years old, the then skeletal Blanche weighed only 55 pounds. The pathos of her prison defied adequate description. Upon her plight being uncovered so was the sight and smell of a hay bed covered in faeces, urine, bugs, and food scraps. While she was calm during the rescue, it was clear that Blanche Monnier suffered mental damage from the capture. What led her mother to lock her in such horrid conditions?

Like every other French socialite in 1876, Monnier was desperate for lasting love. At 25, she was still unmarried and was desperate to move on with her life out of her mother’s home. There in the French capital, she found love in the form of an older lawyer.

But her mother disapproved of the relationship. Still, Monnier’s heart was set on marrying this man, regardless of her mother’s wishes. That was her mistake though, as a vicious argument ensued. Madame Monnier forbade Blanche from seeing this man and even went as far as to beg her to call off the relationship. But Blanche refused.

From that point on, Madame knew Monnier would never give up her emotions on her own for this man. So she locked her daughter in the tiny garret with barricaded shutters preventing any light entering the room. If Blanche wanted freedom, she would have to break off the marriage to this common lawyer her mother disapproved of.

But Blanche was in love, and even if that meant never seeing her love again, then she wouldn’t deny herself loyalty and love. The pretty minor aristocrat stayed in the room, eating dinner scraps her mother would give her, and sleeping on a hay bed left upstairs. 

As Blanche Monnier remained captive in that bare and tiny attic, she truly did never see her lover again, as he passed away in 1885. But the adorable young woman was just as important in high society as her mother and brother so how did they get away with her sudden disappearance? They got away with the crime by persuading those enquiring about Blanche that Blanche had died.

In the public eye, the missing Blanche Monnier was a dead woman, who her mother and brother would mourn at every chance to sell their story. Of course, no one doubted her death, as a young woman passing away unexpectedly was no raise for concern. 

Her brother was also manipulated by their mother though, as well into his 50’s he was still at home with his mother. He never married, and stayed in the home with their mother, not questioning the situation with Blanche one bit. 

Finally, in 1901, French police received a note full of scribbles, claiming there was something strange occurring at the Monnier address. The note even claimed they could hear screams coming from a closed window. While police knew that Blanche Monnier was dead, they still went out to investigate to confirm the claims were false.

But when the police arrived at the house, Madame Monnier peeped out the window and ignored the door.  Frustrated and determined to get to the bottom of the matter, police officers kicked in the front door, As they did so they were hit with rancid odours coming from Blanche’s room. There, they found the now 50-year-old Monnier looking like a skeleton, smelling of her own waste.

After taking Blanche to the hospital, she was grateful for the treatment of the nurses giving her a bath and a proper meal.  When interrogated by police, Madame Monnier claimed Blanche brought this all upon herself, being a woman with violent tendencies and a mentally ill woman since her younger years. 

Her brother also agreed that Blanche did this to herself, claiming she could’ve left at any time and yet chose not to escape the torture chamber her mother locked her in. When it came time to face the court, her mother was given a longer sentence than her brother, but her mother died just 15 days into her sentence. 

The brother, being a lawyer, wormed his way out of his year-long sentence shortly after appealing the charges. Yet Blanche was robbed of her life, and considering she was a 50-year-old woman with nowhere to go, she was admitted into a psychiatric hospital, where she lived for the remainder of her life. No justice was given to Blanche, as she lost over half her life thanks to her mother.  Source 1, Source 2.

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