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A brief biography of Julie Blanqui (1811-1883)

Julie Blanqui was one of the first women to have been closely involved with ESCP. She was the wife of economist Adolphe Blanqui, who ran the school for 24 years. But who actually was she?

How Julie Chaingneau became the first woman of ESCP?

Julie Chaigneau was born in 1811. She studied in Paris at the Blondet institution where she met Adolphe Blanqui, one of her professors. According to her peers, she was “his most brilliant pupil".

Adolphe and Julie married in St Sulpice church, Paris, on 19 January 1826. He was 27 years old and Julie just 15, an age gap that would raise eyebrows today. Adolphe's mother had married a man considerably older when she was about the same age as Julie. His father, Jean-Dominique Blanqui, married his mother, Sophie de Brionville, on 8 October 1796. There was a 22-year difference: Jean-Dominique was 38 years old and his young bride only 16.

Her life with Adolphe Blanqui

Julie and Adolphe had a successful marriage. She gave birth to six children – two sons and four daughters. Their last child, Jeanne, known as Jane, was born in August 1850, three and a half years before Adolphe's death. The Blanqui family lived at the school, at that time an 18th-century former townhouse at 102 rue Amelot in Paris (now the 11th arrondissement). Julie Blanqui entertained many people and organised musical evenings there. She received guests such as Joseph Lakanal, Horace Say, Adolphe Thiers, Alfred de Musset, Émile de Girardin and the painter Eugène Delacroix. However, Julie's life was not just a long series of social events. She also assisted her husband by taking care of the day-to-day running of the school. She ran the infirmary, did the laundry and organised the catering. At this time, the school took in around a hundred young men every year.

After the death of her husband

When Adolphe died in January 1854, the school (which had been his property) was passed on to Guillaume Gervais. He was a friend of the couple who had got to know them when he had been studying medicine in Paris in the 1820s. Guillaume Gervais ran the school on behalf of Julie’s daughter Jane, in his capacity as her legal guardian. Julie carried on living at the school and continued to work in her previous role.

The sale of the school

When Guillaume Gervais died on 3 December 1867, the school was bequeathed to Jane, who was still only 17 years old. She was too young to run the school, and, on 18 February 1869, she sold it to the Paris Chamber of Commerce for 120,000 francs. She was in love with her history professor and needed a dowry to get married. Running the school was an expensive business and the family fortune was considerably diminished. The negotiations with the Paris Chamber of Commerce lasted for several months.

The sale of the school was an important turning-point in Julie’s life, as she had spent almost forty years there. When she was nearly 60, she retired to the Montparnasse district, where she died in 1883. She is buried in the Montparnasse cemetery, while her husband lies in the Père-Lachaise cemetery.

Credit: © RMN-Grand Palais / Tony Querrec / 11-543121.jpg