The More Things Change

5 Nov

Gilles de Rais - from WikipediaThere seems to be a perennial temptation on the part of civilization – or, at least, western civilization, although I’d guess its a universal human trait – to believe we live in the most morally bankrupt era yet known; that everything is falling apart around us.

What we need is a true knight in shining armour to help guide us out of this corrupt time of murderers, thieves, and (to borrow Billy Winnipeg’s term) kiddy fiddlers.

Enter Gilles de Rais (and wikipedia):

Gilles de Rais, seigneur et baron de Rais (1404–1440) was a Breton knight, a leader in the French army and a companion-in-arms of Joan of Arc.

Fantastic! A thousand more men like him and we’d be –

In 1434/5, he retired from military life, depleted his wealth by staging an extravagant theatrical spectacle of his own composition and dabbled in the occult.

Ok, Ok, sure – but sometimes rich people do stupid things, and, seriously, who wasn’t dabbling in the occult back then?

After 1432 Gilles engaged in a series of child murders, his victims possibly numbering in the hundreds.


In his own confession, Gilles testified that “when the said children were dead, he kissed them and those who had the most handsome limbs and heads he held up to admire them, and had their bodies cruelly cut open and took delight at the sight of their inner organs; and very often when the children were dying he sat on their stomachs and took pleasure in seeing them die and laughed…”

Ugh. I’m sure glad we don’t live in those barbaric olden days.


2 Responses to “The More Things Change”

  1. RetroJim November 5, 2010 at 15:56 #

    Holy crap! So he obviously went nuts from something. You wonder what was in the water back then. He and Elizabeth Báthory would have done well together, except for the age difference.

    I can’t imagine a scene like that last paragraph being written for even the bloodiest of horror films. Yet.

    • JRD Skinner November 5, 2010 at 16:08 #

      Agreed – I had to actually omit some of the description of his crimes from the Wikipedia page, as it was just a little too much.

      It’s kind of scary to consider how many of the Bathorys/H.H. Holmes’/Liu Penglis of the world must have simply went on killing without anyone noticing.

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