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Gilles de Laval Retz, seigneur de

Retz or Rais, Gilles de Laval, seigneur de (zhēl də lävälˈ sānyörˈ də rĕts, rĕs) [key], 1404–40, marshal of France, a lord of the Breton marches. A noted soldier, he was at Orléans with Joan of Arc. He was a liberal patron of music, literature, and the arts. After his retirement, rumors spread of satanic and vicious doings in his castle. He was tried in an ecclesiastical court, and he confessed to kidnaping more than 100 children, mostly boys, and to murdering them after maltreating them. He was handed over by the Church to the civil authorities and was executed. There is no reason to doubt his confession. He has been supposed, probably wrongly, to be the original of Bluebeard.

See E. Gabory, Alias Bluebeard (tr. 1930); T. Dix, Black Baron (1930); J. Benedetti, Gilles de Rais (1971).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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