I read your E mail pages on Gilles de Rais with interest.

Is there any conclusive proof that he committed the atrocities against children, worshipped the devil and so on? The main testimony surely came from servants who, like de Rais himself were tortured. Today we would not accept such evidence in any reputable court so are we to readily believe the judgement of the time?

I would like to hear more about your thoughts on which sources are to be taken seriously and which are not. There are many motives it seems, to suggest that other notables of the time would have liked to confiscate his land and enormous wealth. This actually happened when he was found guilty. Are you confident in his guilt?

I look forward to your thoughts on the matter.


ACTUALLY I'M JUST A DILETTANTE on the subject and my knowledge of those events comes solely from Colin Wilson's article. If de Rais was indeed falsely accused, it would explain the weakness of Wilson's analysis of de Rais' character. Wilson in turn seems to have relied in some degree on H.G. Wells, who admitted de Rais' reported behavior to be "unanalysable".

While I do not subscribe to all of his theories and conclusions, Wilson himself nonetheless impresses me as an honest and exhaustive researcher.

Thanks for your E mail. De Rais will always be a bone of contention and yes I also agree that Colin Wilson is not a man to jump to conclusions in this matter but Gilles De Rais must be given the benefit of the doubt. With otheer [sic] darker characters i.e. the Marquis De Sade, Aleister Crowley etc they brought a lot of their misfortune on themselves but De Rias [sic] does seem to have been a genuinely pious scholarly man very far from harming others in his nature. Perhaps other evidence will ultimately be unearthed and we will know the truth one day?

Thank you once again.


Gilles de Rais:
Colin Wilson, The Mammoth Book of True Crime 2, 1990
  French national hero becomes history's most prolific child murderer.