Historical Figures

Flora Tristan

Celeste María Flora Tristán was born in Paris on April 7, 1803 . She is the daughter of the Arequipeño Creole Don Mariano Tristán, a gentleman of well-known lineage and good wealth (brother of Don Pío Tristán, who was Viceroy of Peru, interim President of the Republic and Prefect of Arequipa). Her mother was Madame Teresa Leysné, a Frenchwoman, who apparently celebrated her marriage with Tristán in the city of Bilbao. Flora's father died when she was only five years old, the situation for Madame Leysné was complicated in such a way that she decided to come to Arequipa to claim her hereditary rights, despite the fact that she had previously been divorced of Don Mariano . But the Tristán family, conservative, wealthy, clerical and Hispanic, refused to recognize the filiation and that marriage, claiming that the games had been lost during the war of independence from Spain. Flora's mother, finding herself in the greatest destitution, forced her to marry when she was 17 years old with a master engraver:André Chazal, whom she did not love but to whom she gave herself before marrying in a rapture of sensuality, rage and disdain. . The wedding took place on February 3, 1821 . Jealousy certainly caused the failure of this marriage, after three years of married life, which gave rise to three children. Then the poor lady of Chazal began to work as a governess, at the same time that she suffered harassment from her husband, who claimed custody of the children (one of them, Alina Chazal, would later become the progenitor of the illustrious Paul Gauguin) .

Arrival of Flora Tristán in Peru

Flora had corresponded with her paternal family and constantly entertained the idea of ​​traveling to Arequipa to claim her rights . Finally, leaving her children in the care of friends, she headed for the port of Bordeaux, where she found help from her relative Don Mariano Goyeneche. she Aboard the packet ship "Le Mexicain" she embarked for America on April 7, 1833, taking the route of Brazil and Chile . In her memoirs, she offers a not so benevolent opinion about Chileans and she criticizes second-hand the government of Diego Portales.
On her way to Arequipa she travels along the Peruvian coast and receives, in an inn, the courteous greeting of Archbishop Luna Pizarro. She motivated by natural curiosity, she enters the labyrinths of Peruvian politics to learn about the events of the first years of the Republic. In Arequipa she is unknown to her uncle Don Pío Tristán, who denies her the status of her legitimate daughter and leaves Flora, therefore, outside the coveted Creole inheritance . In any case, she inquired in the city of Misti about the society that surrounded her and was an exceptional witness to the political crisis of 1833-1834. Faced with the rejection of her relatives, she decides to come to Lima, which she sees as an extremely sensual city . She takes lodging in the inn of a former French actress, where the voracious and insidious eyes of Lima society will follow her carefully.

Criticism of Flora Tristán on Peruvian politics

Flora harshly judges the contemporary political scene . On the one hand, Marshal Orbegoso, whom she calls completely invalid; on the other, Dean Valdivia (the "Peruvian Marat"), the disturbing skirt, the concealing cloak, the meticulous and closed aristocracy, the problem of slavery in the sugar mills; They are all themes that concern Mrs. Chazal, providing the perfect inspiration for her work Pilgrimages of a Pariah (1838). Shortly before leaving Peru, she met with "the Mariscala", Doña Francisca Zubiaga de Gamarra, on board a ship in which she was leaving for Chile . Flora admirably portrays the characters and customs of Lima society, framing them in their ideological context.

Flora Tristán, defender of women's rights

She left Callao on July 5, 1834 with a painful experience on her back and with a determined spirit of social struggle. Immediately, in a campaign launched throughout France and England, she dedicated herself to defending the rights of women and their legal equality with men . On the other hand, Flora is considered a defender of workers' rights, since she achieved the formation of the "Universal Union of Workers". Her works include Walks in London , a piece containing sharp criticism of British civilization (1840); The emancipation of women , where she rudely manifests herself against the matrimonial inferiority of the female sex and attacks the prudishness of the environment (1845); and the novel Messiah and Mephistopheles. In addition, she edited the brochure L’ Union Ouvriére , where her ideology or her reform program is synthesized.

Death of Flora Tristan

Flora Tristán died on November 14, 1844 in Bordeaux, dedicated to the promotion of the proletariat, and in full swing of the industrial revolution . As a tribute to this great fighter, a nonconformist of her time, the French workers paid for the mausoleum that keeps her remains in the Chartreux cemetery. She was known in life as "The Messiah Woman", "La Peruviana", or simply "La Paria" . In 1942, Luis Alberto Sánchez studied the personality of Flora Tristán in his book Una mujer sola contra el mundo.