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The mythical Gilles de Rais was born in Machecoul castle

The castle | Melutopia / CC-BY-SA
Castle Gilles de Rais Machecoul castle

Let’s meet Gilles de Rais, the terrible Blue-Beard! He was born here in 1404, he was Gilles de Montmorency-Laval, baron of Retz, lord of Machecoul... Machecoul, which comes from “machicolation”!

People described him as a nice and intelligent person. But they also said he was a brave warrior, a fine and rich erudite... he bought plenty of precious books, organized sumptuous feasts... and he loved theatre.

Aaah, theatre! He asked Jacques Millet to write him a “mystery play” about Joan of Arc in Orléans. Rais' Company performed it on May 8th 1436 for the first time (with Rais' own money). We had 140 actors, a poem with more than 20 000 verses, precious costumes...

But Rais was above all a brave warrior: in 1429, he fought with Joan of Arc in Orléans, he even took part in Charles VII’s coronation in Reims! At the end of the ceremony, the king appointed him marshal of France!

Oh, but Gilles seemed such a nice guy! Mhh, not really... Wait a little: on the other side, he frightened people. They said he was cruel, bloodthirsty, alchemist... he loved human sacrifices and orgies...

And suddenly, children started to disappear, near his castles... He was accused of sodomy, witchery and murder. Gilles was arrested in Machecoul in September 1440: he was executed in Nantes one month later...

So, what about the castle? It fell by marriage to the Laval family in 1406, then in the 18th century it was burnt and demolished. You know what? One century later, they found here bones and corpses buried here...

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!