Piety, Perversion, and Serial Killing: The Strange Case of Gilles de Rais
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Gilles de Rais reflected both deep and profound religious piety as well as heinous crimes against humanity in his life of extravagance, wealth, and power. Sometimes considered the first serial killer in history, this former colleague of Joan of Arc, Marshall of France, and wealthy aristocrat, Gilles was convicted of multiple sex crimes and the horrific murders of many children in the fifteenth century. Spirituality and sodomy are strange bedfellows in a tale which is not as straightforward as might be assumed at first blush. Legal procedure, evidence, witness testimony, and curious contradictions by the defendant yield a tale which reveals plenty of history and mystery, as well as theological conviction, whilst involving powerful ecclesiastical figures.