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Anselmo Lorenzo, anarchist
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Anselmo Lorenzo

Anselmo Lorenzo (1842-1914), a printer from Madrid, has been commonly identified as the "Grandfather of Spanish Anarquism".

Biographical/historical notes:

Lorenzo was among those present at the first anarchist meeting organized by Giuseppi Fanelli in Barcelona, and throughout his career as a publisher served as director of several important anarchist periodicals, including La solidaridad (Madrid) and El productor (Barcelona).

Lorenzo also contributed frequently to the anarchist press, particularly to the influential periodicals Acracia and La revista blanca. In his spare time he wrote short stories with clearly political undertones; one of which, "Amoría" is included in Litvak's important anthology, El cuento anarquista: Antología (1880-1911) (Madrid: Taurus, 1982. 143-50).

Without a doubt, however, Lorenzo's single most important text are his memoirs, in which he colorfully describes the trajectory of the Spanish anarchist movement from its inception with Fanelli to its declines at the turn-of-the-century and after (El proletariado militante. José Alvarez Junco, ed. [Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1974]).

Lorenzo was instrumental in the establishment of the FRE (la Federación Regional Española) in 1870, which was the Spanish branch of the First International. Anselmo Lorenzo, anarchist

At the London Congress of the International in 1871, Lorenzo met with Marx and Engels and was one of the first people to be aware of growing disagreements between those men and Michael Bakunin.

In 1871-72, Lorenzo had to escape to Portugal with important FRE documents because of government prosecution. When the FRE was effectively replaced by the FTRE (la Federación de Trabajadores de la Región Española) in 1881, Lorenzo was forced into semi-retirement from his activism because of internal power struggles.

In 1884, he resumed his role as the leading Spanish anarchist. Throughout his life, Lorenzo endeavored to design a working strategy for real political action. His views were more moderate than many anarchists and in the end can be seen as more heavily influenced by Proudhon and Pi y Margall than by Kropotkin or Bakunin.

Lorenzo died on November 30, 1914; some of his contemporaries felt that his death was hastened by the start of the First World War and by the accumulated failures of Spanish anarchism.

THE following text is entry #72 Miguel Iñiguez's Historical Encyclopedia of Spanish Anarchism:

LORENZO ASPERILLA, Anselmo. Toledo 1841-Barcelona 1914.

Left his native city at an early age for Madrid; in 1852 he was working in a locksmith’s but by 1855 he was an apprentice compositor and taking an interest in the activities of Pi y Margall (especially in 1860).

A member of the Fomento de las Artes from 1863, he attended night classes there and, two years later, heard the Proudhonist lectures by Serrano Oteiza. He greeted the 1868 revolution with delight and the following year was in Fanelli’s audience, at which point he severed his contacts with English protestant clerics and committed himself to championing the principles of the recently-established International.

A founder member of the International’s Madrid section, he attended the first labor congress (Barcelona 1870) and was elected by it to serve on the federal council it established. He had a hand in all of the Madrid section’s activities and in 1871 travelled to Lisbon with Mora and González Morago (founding the Portuguese section); on his return from Lisbon the Valencia Conference chose him as its delegate to the London gathering of the IWMA; from which he returned disappointed.

He served on the FRE’s second federal council and when the FRE was banned by Sagasta, he was to the fore in keeping it alive clandestinely (he toured Andalusia setting up the Defensores de la Internacional). Lafargue’s presence in Madrid made an impact: Mesa and Mora were won over to Marxism and Lorenzo partly so, resulting in Lorenzo’s being looked at askance and criticised, so he resigned his posts and moved north (to Vitoria, Bilbao) and thence to France (in 1873 he was in Montpellier, Bordeaux and Marseilles).

In June 1874 he arrived in Barcelona to a warm welcome from Farga Pellicer, Llunas and García Viñas, which encouraged him to resume his activity on behalf of the International, until certain misunderstandings arose: in 1881 Lorenzo was expelled from the FRE and chose to hold aloof until 1885-86.

When he resumed his activity, we find him attending the Reus symposium and on the editorial team of Acracia. In the years that followed he was a regular contributor to the labor and anarchist press, and he published numerous pamphlets and set up a newspaper ("Ciencia Social," 1895).

Arrested in 1896 (in connection with the Cambios Nuevos episode) he was banished (after seven months in prison); he served his banishment in Paris (as proof-reader for a publishing house) and knew Malato, Grave and Ferrer. When Ferrer embarked upon his educational and publishing ventures, Lorenzo was an essential piece of the jigsaw as his translator and editor (of "La Huelga General"), as well as of the nascent "Solidaridad Obrera" (newspaper and federation alike). The arrest of Ferrer led to Lorenzo’s being detained and he was banished to Alcañiz (1909-11).

His final years, when he had become anarchism’s patriarch, were spent writing and lecturing.

He wrote for countless newspapers including La Solidaridad, Solidaridad Obrera, El Productor, La Revista Blanca, Tierra y Libertad, El Porvenir del Obrero, Natura, La Idea Libre, Los Desheredados, El Corsario, El Protesta, La Anarquía, Tiempos Nuevos, El Trabajo, etc., as well as helping with the compilation of Farga’s work on Garibaldi.

Author of: Acracia o república (Sabadell 1886), Fuera política (Sabadell 1886), El Proletariado Militante (Barcelona 1903, 1903), Justo Vives (Barcelona 1893), El Estado (Barcelona 1895), Las Olimpiadas de la Paz (Madrid 1900), El Hombre y la Sociedad (Barcelona 1902), Criterio Libertario (Barcelona 1903), Vía Libre (Barcelona 1905), Biografía de P. Kropotkin (Barcelona 1905), Incapacidad Progresiva de la Burguesía (Mahón 1905, credited to Lorenzo), El Obrero Moderno (Barcelona 1905), El Proletariado y la Humanidad (Barcelona 1914) El Pueblo (Valencia 1900), El Proletariado en Marcha (New York 1911), El Poseedor Romano (Barcelona 1910), El Banquete de la Vida (Barcelona 1905), El Derecho a la Evolución (Buenos Aires 1928), El Proletariado Emancipador (Barcelona 1911), El Patrimonio Universal (Mahón 1905), Rémora Societaria (Sabadell 1905), Generalidades Sociales (Barcelona 1916), Vida Anarquista (Barcelona 1912), Hacia la Emancipación (Mahón 1913), Anarquía Triunfante (1871, credited), Contra la Ignorancia (1913), La Ganancia (Mahón 1904), Solidaridad (Barcelona 1909), El Trabajo de Mujeres y Niños (Madrid 1900), Evolución Proletaria (Barcelona 1914), La Revolución es la Paz, Capacidad Revolucionaria del Proletariado, La Procreación Humana (all three for the Second Certamen in Barcelona in 1890), El Sindicalismo, El Derecho a la Salud, A la Masa Popular and Ferrer Guardia Anarquista.

In addition he translated Reclus, Malato, Kropotkin, Grave, Pouget, Blonch and others.

The play Floreal by Jean Pierre Chardon was translated into Spanish by Anselmo Lorenzo and published by La Escuela Moderna in 1906.


The first section of the page is text from Daniel John Nappo's page at

The extract from Miguel Iñiguez's Historical Encyclopedia of Spanish Anarchism may be found, along with hundreds of other detailed entries, online at Christie Books,

On Sun, 28 Feb 1999 I queried the Research on Anarchism List regarding Lorenzo's exact date of death, eliciting the following responses:

  • Murray Bookchin's The Spanish Anarchists has several references to Anselmo Lorenzo but bases most of his info on Lorenzo's "El Proletariado Militante" Aqui va la referencia del libro de Anselmo Lorenzo. Lorenzo, Anselmo El Proletariado Militante [prologo, notas y cronologia de Jose Alvarez Junco] (Madrid, Alianza Ed., D.L. 1974).
    --- Julio Rubio, 9 Mar 1999

  • My notes have Lorenzo dying at Barcelona on December 7, 1914. I seem to recall that he was interred in the cemetery of Montjuic, but I am not certain of that.

    — Bob Helms, 3 Mar 1999

  • Bookchin's The Spanish Anarchists seems to have several references to Anselmo Lorenzo but bases most of his info on Lorenzo's El Proletariado Militante, which I assume, is Lorenzo's memoir. Sorry, that's all I could think of.

    — "koski", 3 Mar 1999
    P.S. Per Nettlau's A Short History of Anarchism, Lorenzo, Anselmo (21 April 1841 Toledo - 7 December 1914 Barcelona).

  • He has an entry in A. Thomas Lane (ed.), Biographical Dictionary of European Labor Leaders (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1995), pp.585-6, by Jose Amodia. If it's not easy for you to access a copy, let me have your postal address & I'll send you a photocopy.

    — Dr Dave Berry, 4 Mar 1999

  • Sobre Anselmo Lorenzo, hay otra edicion de "El Proletariado Militante", prologada por Juan Gomez Casas, que publico Zero-ZYX en 1974. Respecto a la relacion de Lorenzo, y de la Federacion Regional Espagnola con la I Internacional, antes y despues de la escision, resulta muy util la monumental "Historia del Movimiento Obrero Espagnol (Siglo XIX)" de Francisco Olaya Morales (Madre Tierra, Madrid, 1994), que entre sus numerosos apendices documentales incluye diversos manifiestos y reglamentos de la FRE, y particularmente (apendice n. 21), una "Proposicion que la Conferencia de delegados de las federaciones locales de la region espagnola, verificada en Valencia el dia 10 de septiembre de 1871, presenta a la Conferencia internacional de Londres" (paginas 924-926), en la que se trata de la forma federativa de la organizacion y las funciones de los consejos y la estadistica.

    Tambien es muy interesante, y a mi modo de ver, divertida, la novela de Juan Goytisolo "La saga de los Marx" en la que, entre otras cosas, reconstruye de forma bastante imaginativa las relaciones entre Lorenzo y don Karl.

    Bueno, pues hasta la proxim,
    — Carlos Barona Martinez, Revista libertaria EKINTZA ZUZENA Aldizkari libertarioa, 10 Mar 1999

  • Para mi, lo mas relevante fue su viaje al congreso de la internacional, en Londres creo, donde amen de conocer a los Marx y mosquearse por la polemica entre rojos y negros, llevo una ponencia sobre organizacion del movimiento obrero. No se si se ha conservado, quizas este en algunas actas de la IWA primitiva.

    A destacar tambien que si bien pertenecio a la primitiva Alianza Democratica, fue descartado en su refundacion, eso lo viene a decir en sus memorias.

    [Roughly translated] "To me, the most relevant was his trip to the congress of the international in London, I believe, where besides meeting the Marxists and becoming annoyed about the polemic between reds and blacks, he presented a thesis on workers organizaton. I don't know if it has survived -- perhaps in some minutes of the primitive/original IWA.

    Also notable that he did belong to the original Democratic Alliance, he was rejected (text unclear even to a native speaker colleague of mine) or not accepted (as a member?) when it was reestablished, which he later relates in his memoirs.

    — Alejandro, Foro Electrenico Escuela Libre

  • At least I've got his day of death for you: November 30. 1914. Murray Bookchin writes a couple of things about Lorenzo in his The Spanish Anarchists. The heroic Years 1868-1936. (Harper Colophon Books, 1978.)

    — Frans Lodewijkx, Netherlands

Francisco Ferrer collection (extensive collection of original materials) at University of California has CORRESPONDENCE, dated 1891-1914, contains correspondence with several notable figures, including Alejandro Lerroux, Pedro Vallina, Anselmo Lorenzo, & Henri Rochefort.

In Spanish see

See also V. Munoz, Anselmo Lorenzo: A Chronology

page added July 2003

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