Flourens, Gustave

Flourens, Gustave

▪ French revolutionary
born Aug. 4, 1838, Paris, France
died April 3, 1871, Chatou

      French radical intellectual and a leader of the Paris Commune revolt of 1871.

      Flourens was the son of a famous physiologist, Marie-Jean-Pierre Flourens, and was a promising young scientist. As an academic he wrote such distinguished works as Histoire de l'homme (1863; “History of Man”), Ce qui est possible (1864; “What Is Possible”), and Science de l'homme (1865; “Science of Man”). In 1867 he was denied a professorship at the Collège de France because of his attachment to radical scientific and political doctrines. He had meanwhile left France for Turkey and Greece. In 1866 he joined a revolt in Crete against the Turks and distinguished himself as a guerrilla leader.

      Flourens soon returned to France and to political activism. He collaborated on an influential left-wing journal, La Marseillaise; fought a duel with Paul de Cassagnac, a right-wing journalist; and led an abortive revolt at the funeral of Victor Noir (Noir, Victor), an obscure young newspaperman who had been shot by Prince Pierre Bonaparte (Bonaparte, Pierre-Napoléon) (January 1870). Flourens was arrested in February 1870 after leading another unsuccessful uprising but was soon released to help defend Paris against the German siege during the Franco-German War (1870–71). Following the capitulation of Paris, he was rearrested that October, once again for revolutionary politics.

      Flourens was free when the Paris Commune revolted in mid-March 1871. He quickly joined the revolutionary movement as elected delegate from the 19th arrondissement of Paris. He played a key role in the military leadership of the Commune and served on the commission of war, but he was killed during a skirmish at Chatou shortly thereafter.

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Universalium. 2010.

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