Gilles de Rais Went From Noble Warrior to Serial Killer

Serial killers aren’t always made. Sometimes they are born and asleep until one spark ignites. Gilles de Rais is one of human history’s most horrific figures. His descent to Hell is one of the infamous tales of France.

The Proof That Stereotypes Are Wrong

It’s incredible how some of the most infamous serial killers can also be the ones you never expect. A famous example in recent times is Ted Bundy. Bundy worked alongside Ann Rule at a women’s shelter.

Bundy helped counsel many women. Yet simultaneously, he hid from being a serial killer. He murdered many women in his time. The disturbing part was Ted going home afterwards and acting as a dedicated husband and father.

Féron Gilles de Rais (1405-1440)
Féron Gilles de Rais (1405-1440)

There were other prolific serial killers before Ted Bundy, and one of them was Gilles de Rais. de Rais was once a hero who fought alongside Joan of Arc. He dedicated his life to France and defended it against the English Empire. He helped lead his country to victory in the Hundred Year War.

TRIGGERS: PTSD | Kidnapping | Murder | Pedophilia | Necrophilia | Gore | Abuse | Torture | Mature Audience.

Everyone Wears A Mask, Especially Heroes

There was a darker side to Gilles de Rais that people knew nothing about. It wasn’t common to suspect nobles to be evil, especially a hero such as de Rais. But once his dark side surfaced to the public, it shook France and the entire world.

Féron Gilles de Rais (1405-1440)
Féron Gilles de Rais (1405-1440) Execution.

How could such a great hero also be a serial killer capable of heinous crimes such as killing people? But the worst part of his killing was his main target: children.

Gilles De Rais’s crimes were horrific when revealed. He was eventually convicted by a court in Nante. The accusations were of the rape and murder of a hundred and fifty children in dark occultist rituals.

How It All Started For The Hero’s Journey

In 1404, a baby boy, Gilles de Rais, a nobleman from a privileged family in France, saw the light of day. He received the best education a noble family would have, such as learning Latin, writing and illuminating manuscripts, and military warfare.

Everything Gilles de Rais needed to succeed in the aristocratic life he received. It cemented his identity, and he would become to the eyes of his home and country. He would apply what he learned to his dark, twisted fantasies that would surface later in life.

15th Century Château de Lassay Mayenne France — Baron Gilles de Rais
15th Century Château de Lassay Mayenne France — Baron Gilles de Rais

In 1432, Gilles began his descent to Hell. He would pay his servants to kidnap children from peasant families. Once in his home, where he had hidden rooms waiting for the children, he would proceed to his heinous activities. de Rais had a reputation for sodomy and raped the children before bludgeoning them to death.

His twisted mind, as dark as psychopathic killers can be, had him decapitate the corpses. But he kept the head of his favourite victims impaled, not unlike what Vlad the Impaler and Genghis Khan did to their enemies. Gilles de Rais visited the heads and kissed them. That alone is a sign of necrophilia.

But in 1435, Gilles brought victory to France. None was the wiser about what happened inside the walls of his home.

The Downfall Of A Washed Up Hero

Five years after the heroic martyr Joan of Arc was burned at the stake as a demonic witch, Gilles de Rais changed. Also winding down, the Hundred Years’ War saw his personality change. Was it the result of PTSD from the war and battles he fought or genetics? Nobody will ever know, and there would be no excuse for his crimes.

After Gilles de Rais retired from the military, he squandered away his fortune and lost everything. At his lowest point, de Rais turned to the underbelly of the occult and received disturbing information.

Féron Gilles de Rais (1405-1440) Tribunal
Féron Gilles de Rais (1405-1440) Tribunal

He would regain his fortune if he organised human sacrifices, specifically children. Of course, this never happened, but de Rais was so far gone that he believed it. He went head over heels for the occult world. There was no coming back for him.

Meanwhile, the Bishop of Nantes had his eyes on Gilles de Rais since 1440 and even built a case against him. Once he received the evidence to accuse de Rais, he went forth with his accusation.

Soon, the world would know that Gilles de Rais was one of the evillest child killers known to men, with a hundred and fifty murders over eight years.

What Is Left To Know About Gilles de Rais

In 1440, Gilles abducted a priest while officials looked into crimes that were committed leading to him. The accusations were against Gilles de Rais for years of murdering children to summon demons.

Gilles de Rais Tribunal
Gilles de Rais Tribunal

de Rais ensured the devilish rituals were to ensure France’s victory in the war. de Rais’ excuse for his crimes made sense to the officials as Joan of Arc was accused of witchcraft five years before de Rais.

Gilles de Rais Sorcier ou Sadique Dinosoria
Gilles de Rais Sorcier ou Sadique Dinosoria

Gilles de Rais’ trial lasted five days and found him guilty of all crimes. It categorised him as having an unnatural vice of children. His sentence was death on October 26th by execution and fire. Historians say that his body was preserved before it turned to ashes.

There is no official record of how many people and children Gilles de Rais indeed murdered. The estimated number remains a hundred and fifty children. More colourful depictions of de Rais estimate he murdered at least six hundred, which seems excessive even for the time.

The Inspiration Of Cruelty And Vice

The story of Gilles de Rais and his crimes inspired Charles Perrault‘s tale of the cruel Bluebeard nobleman. Charles Perrault’s fairy tales served a purpose, and as a feminist, he used his stories to teach young female children never to trust a man. Like most stories we know, most have their roots in reality.

However, some people reject the historical account of Gilles de Rais and want to prove he was innocent. In 1992, a French Freemason took it upon himself to recreate Gilles de Rais’ trial.

Féron Gilles de Rais (1405-1440) Coat Of Arm
Féron Gilles de Rais (1405-1440) Coat Of Arm

The court comprised French Officials and UNESCO. He shared with them all the historical facts the people had in their hands, and the verdict came out as ‘Not Guilty’ because of lack of evidence.

Five hundred years later, Gilles de Rais divided people’s minds. While the original trial found Gilles de Rais ‘Guilty’ of his crimes, the re-enactment declared him ‘Not Guilty.’

People aren’t sure if de Rais’ crimes were planted to frame him or if he committed the crimes. Is he the hero who led France to victory or the depraved necrophiliac pedophile serial killer? The answer might be that Gilles de Rais was both.


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