By now, you may have noticed a divide among your friends. As social distancing and self-imposed quarantine wear on and more workplaces urge employees to avoid the office, the Covid-19 outbreak has left many people more alone than they’ve been in a long time, or ever. This isolation for little time but In 1874, The Person Who Was Locked in a Room for 26 Years.
Yes, Blanche Monnier French woman who spent 26 years captive in a small attic room, imprisoned by her mother and brother, for wishing to marry a man that the strict mother did not approve of.
Monnier was a French socialite from a well-respected, yet conservative bourgeoisie family in Poitiers of old noble origins. She was renowned for her physical beauty and attracted many potential suitors for marriage.
In 1874, at the age of 25, she wanted to marry an older lawyer who was not to her mother Louise's liking; she argued that her daughter could not marry a "penniless lawyer". Her disapproving mother, angered by her daughter's defiance, locked her in a tiny, dark room in the attic of their home, where she kept her secluded for 25 years.
If Monnier wanted freedom, she would have to break off the marriage to this penniless lawyer her mother disapproved of. But Monnier was in love, and even if that meant never seeing her love again, then she wouldn’t. Monnier stayed in the room, eating dinner scraps her mother would give her, and sleeping on a hay bed left upstairs. As Monnier laid captive in that tiny attic, she truly did never see her lover again, as he passed away in 1885.
Louise Monnier and her brother Marcel continued with their daily lives, pretending to mourn Blanche's death. None of her friends knew where she was, and the lawyer who she wished to marry died unexpectedly in 1885.
In the public eye, 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. He never married, and stayed in the home with their mother, not questioning the situation with Blanche one bit.
Finally, On 23 May 1901, an anonymous letter arrived at the Poitier police station that a young woman was being held captive in 21 Rue de la Visitation. The police showed up to the house to investigate, and when they knocked on the door, no one answered, even though they could hear movement from the inside, and see the flutter of curtains moving as Madame Monnier peeked out the window.
They decided to break in and searched every room for this captive woman. When they opened the attic door, they saw the skeleton-like Blanche Monnier.
She now 50 years old, and had not seen daylight for 25 years. Blanche was naked, and she hid her body and face under her blanket because the sunlight was too much to handle. She was terrified and completely deranged
Monnier was rescued by police from appalling conditions, covered in old food and feces, with bugs all around the bed and floor, weighing barely 25 kilograms (55 lb).
One policeman described the state of Monnier and her bed thus:
The unfortunate woman was lying completely naked on a rotten straw mattress. All around her was formed a sort of crust made from excrement, fragments of meat, vegetables, fish, and rotten bread... We also saw oyster shells, and bugs running across Mademoiselle Monnier's bed. The air was so unbreathable, the odor given off by the room was so rank, that we couldn't stay any longer to proceed with our investigation.
Her mother and brother were arrested but When he and his mother were brought to court, Marcel testified that Blanche was an angry woman who was full of rage and that they believed she was mentally ill.
Blanche mother was given a longer sentence than her brother, but her mother died 15 days into her sentence and Her brother Marcel Monnier appeared in court and was initially convicted, but later was acquitted on appeal; Marcel Monnier was deemed mentally incapacitated, and although the judges criticized his choices, they found that a "duty to rescue" did not exist in the penal code at that time with sufficient rule to convict him.
After she was rescued Blanche continued to suffer from mental health problems. She was diagnosed with various disorders, including anorexia nervosa, schizophrenia, exhibitionism, and coprophilia then she was admitted into a psych hospital, where she lived for the remainder of her life and died in 1913.