Filippo Michele Buonarroti

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Buonarroti, Filippo Michele


Born Nov. 11, 1761, in Pisa; died Sept. 17, 1837, in Paris. Activist of the revolutionary movement in France and Italy in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Utopian Communist, comrade-in-arms of G. Babeuf and popularizer of Babeuf’s ideas.

Buonarroti came from an ancient Italian aristocratic family. He was a fervent advocate of the ideas of J.-J. Rousseau. At the beginning of the Great French Revolution he moved to Corsica, where he waged an active struggle against those who advocated the separation of Corsica from France. In 1793 the Convention conferred French citizenship on him for his revolutionary services. A resolute and firm Jacobite, he supported M. Robespierre without reservation. He was arrested in March 1795 by the Thermidor authorities. In prison he became acquainted with Babeuf and absorbed his communist convictions. After the amnesty in 1795 he became chairman of the Pantheon Club, one of the leaders of the movement “in the name of equality,” and a member of Babeufs “secret revolutionary directorate.” Arrested with Babeuf, he was sentenced in 1797 to imprisonment, which was changed to exile in 1800.

From 1806 to 1830, while living in Geneva and Brussels, he continued his revolutionary activities. In the 1820’s and 1830’s, Buonarroti was apparently a leader of several secret revolutionary organizations active in western Europe, especially in Italy and France. In 1828 his book, A Conspiracy in the Name of Equality, or the So-called Babeuf Conspiracy, was published in Brussels and played an important role in the dissemination of communist ideas.

After the July Revolution of 1830 Buonarroti returned to Paris and spent the last seven years of his life there, continuing his revolutionary activities. He exerted great influence on the formation of the views of L. A. Blanqui and other representatives of French Utopian Communism of the 1830’s and 1840’s. Buonarroti’s foundations for communist ideas differed somewhat from Babeuf’s. Buonarroti’s philosophy was considerably influenced by rationalism and deism. He accepted the principle of the immortality of the soul and had sympathy for the religious foundations of Saint-Simonist socialism. Recognition of the necessity for a revolutionary dictatorship in the transitional period after the victory of revolution, was one of the strongest aspects of Buonarroti’s views. He attached decisive importance to the creation of illegal, highly conspiratorial, hierarchical organizations during preparation for revolution. These organizational principles were widely adopted by the Blanquists.


In Russian translation:
Zagovor vo imia ravenstva [2nd ed.], vols. 1-2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1963.


Shchegolev, P. P. “Filipp Buonarroti i ego ‘Zagovor ravnykh.’” Uch. zap. LGU: Ser. istoricheskikh nauk, 1940, issue 6.
Saitta, A. Filippo Buonarroti, vols. 1-2. Rome, 1950-51.
Galante Garrone, A. Filippo Buonarrotie i rivoluzionari dell’-ottocento. Turin, 1951.
Eisenstein, E. L. The First Professional Revolutionist: Filippo Michele Buonarroti. Cambridge (Mass.), 1959. (For the most complete bibliographical survey on Buonarroti, see pages 161-90.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.