For some reason this rather grim character is still quite fascinating. We are filled with the tales of Vlad and Bathory, this chap seems to fit in rather well in a list of evil figures of the past.

In 1404 the wife of Guy de Laval gave birth to his son, as she lay exhausted with the child in her arms I doubt she would have known what he was going to grow up to be. He was an orphan by aged 11 and heir to a vast fortune. By 16 years old he had increased his wealth by abducting and then secretly marrying his cousin, Catherine of Thouars. It was only one of many scandals he was due to cause.

A period of decadence was brought to a halt with a call to arms by the King of France (then Charles VII) and Gilles De Rais was appointed Marshall of France and also the Protector of Joan of Arc in 1429. He fought loyally for a woman who claimed that God had called her to lead the French Army and when she was burnt at the stake by the English in 143, it is said that he went into a state of self-destructive madness.

He then retreated to his castle at Tiffauges where he turned to the practise of alchemy, he wanted his fortune back and thought that it might give him the answer.  He imported sorcerers from around Europe, he was under the influence of a sadistic one named Francesco Prelati and was told to get the Devil to help him succeed he needed to carry out the worst and most abominable crimes.

Because of this Gilles De Rais went from a Marshall of France that could have been a hero in the annals to a sadist and villain. For the rest of his life his time was spent with torture, sexual abuse and murder of young children who were mostly boys.  In 1440 he was taken to the city of Nantes where he was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.

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