Gilles de Montmorency-Laval, better known as Gilles de Rais or "The Original Bluebeard", was a leader in the French army, companion-in-arms of Joan of Arc, and secretly a prolific serial killer and rapist. He is considered to be one of the first identified serial killers in world history.
Rais was born in September 4, 1404 AD to Guy II de Montmorency-Laval and Marie de Craon. Rais was described as an intelligent and smart child who spoke Latin fluently and illuminated manuscripts. Shortly after the deaths of his parents, Rais and his younger brother were placed under the care of their grandfather, Jean de Craon. Craon attempted several times to marry Rais with rich and influential girls from wealthy families, but was unsuccessful until he finally managed to arrange a marriage with Catherine de Thouars of Brittany, heiress of La Vendée and Poitou, and thus, increasing his grandson's fortune. Following the Breton War of Succession, a sixteen-year-old Rais took the side of House of Montfort and was able to secure the Duke's release, he was subsequently rewarded with land grants, which were converted to monetary gifts. In 1425, Rais began studying the Dauphin, Charles Vll of France , learning courtly manners from him. From 1427 to 1435, Rais served as a commander in the Royal Army and even fought along with Joan of Arc, he was present with her when the Siege of Orléans ended. Rais was chosen as one of four lords on July 17, 1429 and was officially declared a Marshal of France on that same day. Rais was not present when Joan was burned at a stake in May 1431. A year after Joan's death, his grandfather died on November 15, 1432 and left his sword and breastplate to René de La Suze, Rais' younger brother, as a way to punish Rais for the reckless spending of his fortune.
In 1435, now bankrupt and no longer involved with the military, Rais began selling his properties to support his extravagant lifestyle. On July 2, a royal edict denounced Rais and prohibited him from selling any further property, Rais subsequently left Orléans.Rais' first murders occured between 1431 and 1433, with the help of his accomplices, Rais kidnapped and killed an unknown number of children, some were even used rituals involving alchemy and demon summoning. On one occassion, Rais provided a contract with a demonic entity named Barron and attempted to summon him, but grew frustated after no demon manifested. Having being told that Barron demanded the soul of at least one child, Rais murdered a boy and dismembered him, placing his limbs inside a glass vessel, but again, no demon manifested. On May 15, 1440, Rais abducted and murdered a cleric, which caught the attention of the Bishop of Nantes, who investigated him and discovered his heinous crimes, forty bodies of his victims were found. Rais subsequently confessed to the murders and was sentenced to death along with his accomplices. Rais was hanged and burned on October 26, 1440.
Rais targeted males and females between the ages of 6 and 18, but he was more interested in murdering boys for an unspecified reason. They would be abducted by Rais' accomplices and taken to a secluded place, where Rais would strip them naked. He then hung them with ropes from a hook; and tortured, molested, and raped them. Rais would often tell the children that he only wanted to "play" with them. After being satisfied, Rais would order his accomplices to kill them or do it himself. His victims were killed in a variety of ways, mostly with a short double-edged sword called a braquemard, which was used to slash their throats, decapitate them, or dismember them. Rais would often sit on their stomachs as they were dying. After killing his victims, he would kiss them and mutilate their bodies to admire their limbs and organs. Sometimes, Rais would even have sex with his victims' mangled bodies. In order to dispose of their bodies, they would be cremated or buried.
- Unspecified dates between 1431 and 1440: Numerous unnamed victims
- May 15, 1440: Unnamed cleric
- Note: As most of the victims' bodies were never found, the exact number is unknown. Estimates place the body count to be from 80 to as many as 600.
On Criminal Minds
Rais seems to have provided inspiration for a number of serial killers on the show:
- Charles Holcombe, who also had a body count in the double-digits, had an accomplice who abducted and brought his victims to him, tortured and killed his victims by dismembering them (though this was only one of Gilles's kill methods), and committed his killings after someone connected to him died.
- Eric Olson, who also kissed his victims after killing them.
- Anita Roycewood, who also cremated her underaged victims (although Rais did it post-mortem while did it ante-mortem) and disposed of their ashes with the help of accomplices.