Gilles de Rais
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Gilles de Rais (also spelled Retz) (autumn of 1404 – October 26, 1440) was a French noble, soldier, and one time brother-in-arms of Joan of Arc. He was later accused and ultimately convicted of torturing, raping and murdering dozens, if not hundreds, of young children, mainly boys. Along with Erzsébet Báthory, another sadistic aristocrat acting more than a century later, he is considered by some historians to be a precursor of the modern serial killer.
In literature, Gilles de Rais (under the name Gilles de Retz) is the villain in the 1899 novel The Black Douglas by S.R. Crockett. The novels The Life and Death of my Lord Gilles de Rais by Robert Nye and Là-Bas by Joris-Karl Huysmans are among the works which retell his life. The novel Gilles & Jeanne by Michel Tournier covers his campaigning with Joan of Arc. This relationship partly informs David Rudkin's play The Triumph of Death. Gilles de Rais's worship of Barron, and that creature itself, form the backdrop to Shaun Hutson's 1991 novel Renegades. Gilles has been cited as the inspiration for Charles Perrault's fairy tale Bluebeard. It is also the main character in the short story Rumfuddle by Jack Vance.
In music, Swiss avant-garde metal band Celtic Frost based their 1984 song "Into the Crypts of Rays" from the Morbid Tales album on the atrocities committed by Gilles, and Belgian black metal band Ancient Rites based their 1994 song "Morbid Glory (Gilles de Rais 1404-1440)" from Diabolic Serenades on the life of Gilles de Rais. The shock/thrash band GWAR mentions Gilles in their song "Blimey", from the album America Must Be Destroyed. American surrealist black/death metal band Sangraal released Unearthly Night, a concept album based on Gilles de Rais, in 2005. British extreme metal band Cradle of Filth released Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder (subtitled The Life and Crimes of Gilles de Rais), a concept album based on the life of Rais, in 2008. Avant-garde legends The Residents included a narrative about Gilles' life on the track The Beards! from their 2006 album River of Crime (Episodes 1–5).American Death Metal band Cannibal Corpse include a from quote Gilles de Rais in the insert of their 1991 album "Butchered at Birth", giving an account of his methods of murder. Another American Death Metal Brodequin made a song Gilles de Rais about crimes of de Rais on their Festival of Death album.
In manga, Gilles de Rais was featured as the chief antagonist in the comic book "Tetragrammaton Labyrinth" pitted against the main character who was based on one of the child victims whom he had murdered in real life. It was explained that he murdered the children to turn himself into an immortal demon. Later it was revealed that this was to further his plans to resurrect Joan of Arc.
In the 2000 Summer Sailor Moon musical Transylvania no Mori and its 2001 Winter revival, Baron Gilles de Rais is brought back to life as a homuculus under the control of Dark Cain in order to further the war between humans and demons. Gilles mentions Jeanne a few times, and compares her with Sailor Moon, whom he names the Maiden of Orleans.
In the 2004 game Shadow Hearts: Covenant, the player can explore Tiffauges Castle which is mentioned to be Gilles de Rais' property. The antagonist from the first game, Albert Simon, then tells a brief story of Gilles de Rais before challenging the protagonist.
In the Japanese light novel, Fate/Zero, Gilles de Rais is summoned as Servant Caster.
- Bataille, Georges. The Trial of Gilles de Rais. Amok Books. ISBN 978-1-878923-02-8.
- Benedetti, Jean. Gilles de Rais. Stein and Day. ISBN 978-0-8128-1450-7.
- Bordonove, Georges. Gilles de Rais. Pygmalion. ISBN 978-2-85704-694-3.
- Cebrián, Juan Antonio. El Mariscal de las Tinieblas. La Verdadera Historia de Barba Azul. Temas de Hoy. ISBN 978-84-8460-497-6 (Spanish).
- Genet, Jean. The Thief's Journal. p.45. Grove Press. ISBN 0-8021-3014-3.
- Huysmans, Joris K. La Bas (Down There). Dover. ISBN 978-0-486-22837-2.
- Hyatte, Reginald. Laughter for the Devil: The Trials of Gilles De Rais, Companion-In-Arms of Joan of Arc (1440). Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press. ISBN 978-0-8386-3190-4.
- Lampo, Hubert. De duivel en de maagd. 207 p., Amsterdam, Meulenhoff, 1988 (11e druk), ISBN 9029004452. (1e druk: ’s-Gravenhage, Stols, 1955).
- Lampo, Hubert. Le Diable et la Pucelle. 163 p., Presses universitaires du Septentrion, 2002, ISBN 2-85939-765-5. (traduction française de De duivel en de maagd).
- Morgan, Val. The Legend of Gilles De Rais (1404-1440) in the Writings of Huysmans, Bataille, Plancon and Tournier (Studies in French Civilization, 29). Edwin Mellen Press. ISBN 978-0-7734-6619-7.
- Nye, Robert. The Life and Death of My Lord, Gilles de Rais. Time Warner Books. ISBN 978-0-349-10250-4.
- Wolf, Leonard. Bluebeard: The Life and Times of Gilles De Rais. Potter. ISBN 978-0-517-54061-9.