Queer Places:
Cementeri de Sabadell Sabadell, Provincia de Barcelona, Cataluna, Spain

Vilapujol.gifIsabel Vilà i Pujol ( Calonge , 3 of August of 1843 - Sabadell , 23 of December of 1896 ) was one Republican , fighter for the rights of workers. She is considered the first Catalan unionist . [ 1 ] She entered Catalan historiography thanks to the account made by the deputy Pere Caymó who participated in the uprising known as Foc de La Bisbal (1869). For this reason, also Carles Rahola elevated her to heroin status. She was in the implantation of the International Association of Workers (AIT) in Bajo Ampurdán and created the Local Federation of the International Association of Workers of Llagostera .

Her parents were called Segimon Vilà Roure, a native of Calonge (in some documents it appears to be from Palamós ), and Teresa Pujol Armet, from la Jonquera (in some documents it appears to be from Agullana). She was the third daughter of the marriage, who had five children. In the 1850s, the family moved, due to financial problems, to Llagostera, the center of the cork industry and the nucleus of republicanism. [ 2 ] Isabel Vilà already appears in the list of inhabitants of Llagostera in 1857. That same year her father died. In the 1860s, she lived on Calle del Hospital and could not read or write. In her youth, she dedicated herself to work, take care of the sick and educate herself with the idea of ​​being a school teacher. [ 3] She had very clear ideas and was rebellious. It is said that when she was training as a teacher, she complained about the excessive rules to which writing was subject, equating it to the social state; as a practice of dissent, she decided to change the 'b' to the 'v' in his name, Isavel. She did not leave descendants or had a partner, she opted for a certain lay asceticism. It was not always understood within their environment, when young many comrades did not support their fight against child labor, and when older unionists rejected their religious drift. [ 2 ]

When the Revolution of 1868 broke out , Vilà was 25 years old. Following the revolution, she entered sociopolitical environments in the area attending a rally held in November by the socialist Fernando Garrido and the French ethnologist and anarchist Elie Reclus , brother of the famous geographer Élisée . In March 1869 she promoted a petition to the Cortes, she had the signature of 800 women, requesting the abolition of the fifths, the separation of Church-State and freedom of worship. [ 4 ] In October the so-called Foc de la Bisbal occurs, the Republicans wanted to take up arms and she opposed it. Even so, she supported the armed uprising with the preparation of the entire health team. The mobilization was grouped in a concentration of all the federals in La Bisbal to go together to Girona . The inhabitants of Llagostera, with Vilà, passed through Calonge on their way to La Bisbal. Vilà assisted the wounded, coinciding with the also volunteer Anna Rocas Abrich . She didn't want to quit her job until she got the last wounded man out. Her uncle Josep, also wounded, took her from La Bisbal to Llagostera.

Pere Caymó described Vilà as "a brave and determined activist, and with an authentic fighting character". [ 3 ]

In 1872 she left the ranks of republicanism to join the Local Federation of Llagostera (shoemakers and bricklayers) of the Spanish Regional Federation of the International Association of Workers (FRE-AIT), better known as La Internacional, dedicating herself to its implementation in the region. On August 30 of that year she participated in a rally of internationalist affirmation and anarchist apoliticism in Sant Feliu de Guíxols and in July 1873 in another in Llagostera. Between 1872 and 1873 she held the secretariat of the FRE de Llagostera. [ 4 ]

Her most intense moment as a political activist was in 1873 when she committed herself to complying with the so-called Benot Law that regulated child labor, not allowing children under 10 to work, and boys and girls of 13 years to do more than five hours a day, and established an eight-hour workday for young people between 13 and 14 years old and for young women between 14 and 17 years old. It also included that in factories that are more than four kilometers from the town, children between 9 and 13 years old should have a school to attend, at least three hours a day. Her effort to enforce this law was so vehement that in Llangostera they gave her the nickname Isabel Cinco Horas.

This fight was not understood neither by the local bourgeoisie nor by their own union members, who did not understand that children had to be given these advantages to facilitate their growth. The AIT was under a lot of pressure to expel it. [ 5 ]

Her participation in the campaign Outside fifths ; the request for a library for the workers and a place for the education of the working class in Llagostera and her struggle to achieve the five-hour day for the children who worked in the factories, etc., made her a woman to continue in her weather. [ 6 ]

In 1874, with the coup d'état of General Pavia and the banning of the International, an arrest warrant was issued against Vilà. She had to leave for France and went into exile in Carcassonne where she remained for six years. There she was welcomed by the Montada family, a family of enlightened freemasons , with land in Algeria . She carried out accounting tasks in their factory and was able to study teaching while teaching Spanish at the Pension Drolette school in Carcassonne. [ 5 ] [ 7 ]

In 1880, she returned to Catalonia. She settled in Barcelona dedicating herself to teaching as a French language teacher at home. In 1881 she founded the Franco - Spanish College. Her professional fame grew and Joan Salas i Anton , a well-known Republican and Freemason from Sabadell, offered her a position in a rationalist girls' school governed by the principles of the Free Institution of Education, dependent of the Federal Democratic Republican Circle, and that was located in the low ones of this entity. Vilà accepted on condition that she continue supervising the work of the Franco - Spanish School once a week. This formula did not work and in January 1882 she decided to sell the teaching center and move to Sabadell where she held the position of director of the Lay Girls School for nine years. Vilà was one of the first women to run a school. In 1883, apart from the opposition of the most reactionary sectors, she had to face a lack of financial resources, since the school had no subsidies or aid. In 1886 the center continued to operate although Vilà did not receive any remuneration.In 1887 the Federal Democratic Republican Circle decided to change its headquarters and the Board of Directors communicated her replacement by another teacher, excluding her from the school project due to her relations with the spiritualism , a movement that then brought together freethinkers of scientific spirit who wanted to modernize society, and the religious drift that had taken her life as she was approaching Protestantism . In 1892 progressive and union organizations no longer had it. Despite this, she founded another free school for girls that lasted three years. Vilà died on December 23, 1896, at the age of 53, a victim of a cerebral stroke. She was buried in the Sabadell civil cemetery, known as the Cemetery of Dissidents . [ 2 ] [ 5 ]

During the Second Republic (1931-1936) the Llagostera City Council adopted the agreement to dedicate a street to her, although this denomination did not last long. After the Civil War, by decision of the Francoist council, the republican nomenclature was canceled. In the municipal plenary session of April 12, 1995 in the city of Llagostera, it was approved to dedicate a place to her in the new urbanization of Santa Eugenia. [ 4 ]

Vilà has dedicated public spaces, streets or squares, in Palafrugell [ 8 ] , La Bisbal del Ampurdán [ 9 ] , Calonge, Girona and Sabadell. [ 6 ]

Since 2000, the Isabel Vilà Memorial Walk has been held , organized by a group of entities, unions and excursionist associations, in commemoration of the march that took place from Llagostera to La Bisbal in the revolt of the Foc de la Bisbal. [ 5 ]

In August 2013, an honorary plaque was inaugurated in the town of Calonge. [ 10 ] Also in this year a musical about her figure titled IsaVel was announced , directed by Kim Planella. [ 11 ] [ 12 ] [ 13 ]

In December 2016, the Montilivi Library of the UdG inaugurated new study rooms, one of them called Isabel Vilà i Pujol. [ 14 ]

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