Gilles de Rais

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Gilles de Rais (1404-1440) was a hero of France. He was a general who fought with Joan of Arc. He was considered a noble soldier, but at the same time, he was accused and convicted of infanticide- torturing, raping, and murdering dozens, if not hundreds of children.

He is well known as French sadistic murderer.

Gilles de Rais tortured and killed a large number of boys (and a few girls), finding intense sexual gratification in the process. In some cases, he not only raped and murdered the children, but would eat their flesh.

Historians believe that the first abducted his first 12 year-old boy in 1432.  The boy was the apprentice of Guillaume Hilairet. When the boy disappeared, Hilairet sought out Gilles de Sille (a cousin of de Rais), who told him the boy was kidnapped by thieves from the Tiffauges village. Although, there was no evidence, de Rais was charged with the boys death and kidnapping.

Gilles de Raies pampered each child, dressing them in the best clothes, better than any they’d ever had or seen. He started the evening with a large meal and heavy drinking. The child was taken to an upper room where de Rais and his immediate circle of friends were admitted. The child would be confronted with the situation; this initial shock was de Rais’ initial source of gratification and pleasure.

He would rape the child as it hanged from a hook by the neck. Before the child died, de Rais would take the child down, comfort it, repeat the act, and either killed the child himself or had it slain.

Etienne Corrillaut, Poitou, (one of his co-conspirators) testified that de Rais sometimes decapitated the children, sometimes by cutting their throats, other times by dismembering them, or by breaking their necks with a stick. He used a braquemard, which is a short, thick double-edged sword to actually decapitate the heads.

Gilles de Rais rarely kept the child alive for more than one night of sick pleasure. In some cases, the children were dealt mortal wounds before de Rais would sodomize them. And, in some cases, de Rais would have sex with the dead child.

de Rais testified, himself, that when the children were dead, he would kiss them. For those children who had the most attractive limbs and head, he would hold up and admire; some he would cut the bodies open and look at their organs. He claimed that in some cases, he would lay the children on their stomachs as they died and took pleasure in watching them die.

Henriet Griart (another co-conspirator) testified that the bodies were often cremated, burning the fires slowly over time to minimize the smell.

Gilles de Rais and his conspirators confessed only when under torture. When he was convicted of his crimes, which included worship of the devil, he was then strangled and his body burned.