Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods


The Murders Begin

With the accord between the English and the French, the Hundred Years War ended and King Charles VII retired to his estates to begin ruling over a country finally at peace. The political wrangling subsided somewhat, and the noblemen were expected to disband their armies and return to their own estates to rebuild and re-accumulate the wealth which had been lost during the war. Gilles, having been allied with both Joan of Arc and La Tremoille, was in a precarious position after the death of his grandfather, even though dCraon and de Rais had quarreled bitterly when Gilles was forced to sell a family estate to pay his private army. When La Tremoille was arrested and banned from court, Gilles returned to Champtoce.

The sedentary lifestyle of a retired war hero was not for Gilles de Rais, a headstrong young man whose only life experience to date had been the glory and carnage of battle. He yearned for excitement and blood, but was forced to become a murderer to fulfill his desires.

If circumstances had changed, Gilles had not Restless activity, killing and violence, coupled with theatrical display had been the conditions of his existence, wrote a biographer, Jean Benedetti. His society had a vested interest in his capacity for violence; under certain circumstances it legitimized and honored it. The psychopathic urgency of his private needs had been concealed by the general brutality of military practice.

At his trial, Gilles told his inquisitors that he killed in cold blood for the first time in the year his grandfather died, either 1432 or 1433. In his confession, Gilles stated that At (Champtoce) he killed children and had them killed in large numbers how many he is uncertain. And he committed with them the sodomitic and unnatural sin Sometime after the death of dCraon, Gilles moved his courtiers to Machecoul, where the murders began in earnest.


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