When it comes to 14th-century French nobility, there are few characters more illustrious (and more terrifying) than Gilles de Rais. Rais began his life as a darling of the French military, and he even fought alongside Joan of Arc during the Hundred Years’ War.
However, later in his life, it was revealed that Rais was always up to no good.
Early in his life, Rais was considered among the finest of the French nobility.
After growing up in his grandmother’s household, Rais curried favor among his noble peers and was admitted to the French court. From 1427 until 1435, Rais served in the French military. He was eventually named Marshal of France and spent time fighting alongside Joan of Arc.
It was after he retired from the military, however, that his life took a turn for the bizarre.
During his life, Rais had become quite wealthy. After he retired, he spent the vast majority of his fortune on a large-scale theater production of his own design. The play was called Le Mistère du Siège d’Orléans. The script included more than 20,000 lines of verse, 140 major roles, and 500 extras. The entire thing nearly bankrupted him, and it was only performed once.
Stranger still was the nobleman’s supposed involvement in the occult.
After severely depleting his family’s fortune, Rais dabbled in the occult. He hoped to broker with demons as a way to get more wealth. For several months, one of his friends attempted to summon one; however, after the demon failed to appear, the friends concluded that the demon needed a human sacrifice. That’s when Rais started killing.
Right before his death, it was discovered that Rais was a prolific child murderer.
After a conflict with a member of the clergy, the church began investigating Rais. What they found were numerous complaints of children near his castle disappearing. Further investigation found a grave near his property containing the naked remains of at least 47 children. At his trial, it was revealed that Rais lured the children in with the promise of a meal. After dinner, he then sexually abused and murdered them. In 1440, he was convicted for his heinous crimes and sentenced to death by hanging.
Rais was one twisted guy. Luckily, the law caught up with him before he could cause any more damage. But just think how many members of the nobility got away with their vicious hobbies simply because they stayed on the right side of the church.
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