|Gilles de Rais|
Unholy Testament - The Beginnings
From Eco's Journal:
Now about the pacts with Satan I mentioned—we now come to the story of Gilles de Rais and my encounter with him.
I knew he had ridden with Joan of Arc, the fiery young girl who loved to parade around in armor, winning battles for France and putting the boot into England whenever she could.
I had seen her briefly, shortly before she was burned at the stake. Yes, one of the much loved methods of execution by both church and state…charming, don’t you think?
Well they burned this seventeen year old girl, yet this aide of hers, this Gilles de Rais, this former close ally did absolutely nothing in her defense. Even I thought him a coward for that.
If I had become interested in him then my interest grew even more after Father Satan visited me to tell me de Rais wished to have gifts from Satan yet would not make a pact with him.
“Can you imagine such a cowardly cur? He wants gifts but will not pay me the homage I am owed!”
Whatever people may think, many enormously wealthy and powerful people you’d never suspect do, in fact, come to arrangements with Satan. You see, that is how they acquire their wealth.
Gilles de Rais did. He loved wealth, this man. He wallowed in it. Nothing was enough, plus he was also a terrible spendthrift. His brother admonished him on more than one occasion and threatened him constantly.
These were powerful people and power went with wealth. The last thing de Rais could envision was to be made destitute. Yes, it was almost as bad as that.
Now for the sinful side of this Marshal of France, this former aide to Joan of Arc—despite being married, de Rais was depraved sexually. He molested children—little boys were his specialty. Well, you have to understand the mindset of France at that time. An aristocrat could do with peasants (children included) as they pleased. It didn’t matter a jot!
So he did, and this is when it really got nasty. In seeking to restore his wealth, he consorted with demons. His priest (yes, a priest) told him of a certain conjurer and sorcerer, a Frenchman by the name of Francois Prelati, who could summon demons and help de Rais replenish his wealth.
You see, Prelati was supposed to excel in alchemy and alchemy was thought to turn base metals into gold. Ah, gold! When de Rais heard about Prelati’s talents, he was ecstatic.
I know what you are thinking, Rose—you are wondering how I know all of this? Well, I was to meet de Rais later and it was he who told me.
The Priest, Blanchette, was dispatched to Italy to find Prelati. Now, Prelati was nothing more than a charlatan.
Yes, Rose, there are ways to summon Satan but Prelati didn’t know his rear end from a proper summoning ceremony! And as for the hokum of alchemy, well, he knew that was nonsense as well. He was, if nothing, far more clever than those he took advantage of.
Blanchette greeted him and explained why he had come. In no time at all, he certainly understood how rich de Rais was or at least how much de Rais still had which he could ‘acquire.’
They returned to France to find a warm welcome. de Rais was delighted with Prelati. Prelati was a curly-headed handsome young man and well, who knows just how chummy they really were?
In no time at all, with de Rais’ most trusted servants and loyal henchmen, and along with his cousin Gilles Sille, they began to beseech Satan for gifts.
As it happened, de Rais himself told me all of this. He said it was in Tiffauges during the vernal equinox—Midsummer’s Night Eve, a most magical time for spirits to be active—that they really got the thing going.
Shortly before midnight, Prelati drew a pentagram circle on the floor as they waited for all Hell to break loose.
Now what I have not yet told you is rather distressing, so please prepare yourself. As de Rais was having his way with children and murdering them (it was part of his fun, you see), he had no problem with fulfilling one of Prelati’s requests that in order for the summoning to succeed, he (Prelati) would have to use a book of spells written in the blood of children.
This was easy for de Rais and he gave Prelati more than enough children’s blood to use. Prelati wrote the spells up and they were ready to proceed.
The summoning ceremony began and a trembling de Rais clutched his blood-book. But here is the amazing thing, besides holding the book, de Rais also held a note in his hand which was for Satan; a note he intended to hand over when Satan appeared. In it he promised to give him anything he wished ‘except his life or his soul.’
Now, I don’t know about you but I found that extremely amusing. Here is a horrific child murderer, an evil human holding a book of symbols written in the blood of children, and he wishes to remain a devout Catholic! Really!
Their summoning went on for two hours, with Prelati calling for a demon to appear. That didn’t happen, but there was a rather violent thunderstorm that created the proper sort of atmosphere—something but not enough.
After this, Prelati said they would have to offer up something really important in order to get the devil’s attention: a sacrifice.
That de Rais was ready for. “What would you require?” he asked.
Prelati replied it wasn’t for him; it was for the demon, supposedly named Barron, who wished the sacrifice to contain a child’s heart, sexual organs and eyes.
This was easily provided and the ceremony went on. As de Rais told me, a demon did indeed appear and nearly beat the Hell out of Prelati, which I thought was rather funny.
These nonsensical rites continued for two years; nonsensical because no gold was made, nor wealth along with it. But then de Rais’ family got involved. That is, his brother Rene managed to get the king to issue an order preventing de Rais from selling off any more land.
Before that could happen, however, there was to be an inspection, and Gilles realized this would involve his brother and associates coming to his castle in order to account for everything. Naturally, he knew he had much to hide.
Gilles’s cousin and servants aided him with this, collecting bones and hiding bodies and so on.
Despite some skeletons being found on the grounds, the family closed ranks for whatever reason and neither said nor did anything.
De Rais was safe for the moment, but powerless and nearly broke and unable to rectify the situation. But then he had a thought and a plan was hatched, which ironically led to his downfall and death.
With constraints on his wealth caused by his family’s machinations, he became crazed and before too long hatched a wild plan to get money.
He put together a group of bandits and set out for the church at St. Etienne de Mermorte during High Mass. Brandishing axes and other weapons, de Rais and his men threatened the priest there and kidnapped him.
You see, he was certain of getting payment for his hostage. There was just something he didn’t figure on. This particular priest was the brother to the Treasurer of Brittany!
If many of de Rais’ crimes were generally known by the nobles, they didn’t care really—but this! This was something to get involved in for it had to do with money and the church!
At long last they began to collect evidence against de Rais, which happened to include depositions taken from the parents of missing children. Now they were prepared to listen to them and the more they heard, the more they were affected.
De Rais proclaimed his innocence but an arrest warrant was eventually issued and he found himself in custody. He was special though as Marshal of France and was held in very comfortable chambers.
I was there, Rose, and did witness the proceedings. This was the first time I had actually seen de Rais in person. I was startled by his handsomeness, his black hair and fine features. He looked every bit the aristocrat he was. However, despite his station, he was charged for his crimes.
Standing before the ecclesiastical and secular judges, Gilles was asked to answer to the charges. This he refused to do. Instead, he verbally attacked the authorities, calling them names and asserting that he would rather be “hanged by a rope around his neck than respond to such ecclesiastics and judges.”
Four times the judges asked Gilles to make a plea, and four times he ignored them. Left with no other choice, the Bishop of Nantes excommunicated him and adjourned the hearing.
Now, this is where I come in. I passed myself off as a Papal Aide. Yes, I know I really have cheek, don’t I? I am quite incorrigible but truly, I had to be this dramatic or they would not have let me see him.
I had to actually spend time with him. That was all part of my plan. They seemed in awe of me.
“Really, does his Holiness know of this case?”
I could see they were quaking for they didn’t wish to be admonished in any way for their terrible laxity where the children were concerned.
I assured them the Holy Father just wished a report, nothing else. And I further assured them that I would use my very best judgement as to what that report contained.
“Well, by all means, Your Worship, please go and see the accused, and do tell him who you are.”
I nodded for I had every intention of telling de Rais exactly who I was, which was not, of course, the Papal Emissary!
I was taken to Lord de Rais’ chamber. I must say he really was a piece of work. Here he was, accused of horrendous things, and he was smug and nasty.
“What do you want?”
I waited to tell him until I was certain no one would hear.
“I have come to tell you that you have already forfeited your soul, your Lordship!”
He looked livid. He began to tell me off but I merely leant over and whispered: “de Rais, I am not who you think I am. I am a representative of Satan himself!”
He did blanch; he would deny it later, but he did. I saw it. “You are what?! How dare you trifle with me at a time like this?”
It was clear to see he did not believe me. This was not unexpected. I then performed some magic, which got his attention. I’m not sure exactly what I conjured, but whatever it was, de Rais looked properly impressed. When he finally collected himself, I announced Satan’s arrival.
The instant Satan appeared, de Rais fainted. Well, you see, it was so very dramatic! We were alone and suddenly Satan was there.
At last de Rais came to. He couldn’t speak for the longest time, which didn’t matter since Satan was doing all of the talking anyway.
“You have indeed lost your soul, de Rais!” Satan stated. “A mere mortal like you has no control over it, after what you did! How dare you seek to conjure demons and make pacts with the devil as you call it with the stipulation that you are to retain your soul? You preposterous man! That is so insulting to me! Do you not know? Don’t you see what you have achieved? You have nothing, you have lost your church and your god, such as he is, and now you don’t even have my support! Make no mistake, de Rais, you will be in Hell upon your death.”
De Rais shook for such a long time that whenever he tried to speak he could not. At last he did. “No!” he cried. “I shall seek forgiveness! I will throw myself on the mercy of the church!”
Rose, Satan only laughed. “Ah,” he said. “It is debatable whether or not you shall be given it. After all, the god of your church has the final say and I for one can say from a personal standpoint, he can be extremely unforgiving!”
A surprising thing happened after this. Satan had left, and I was preparing to go as well, when suddenly de Rais called me back and said he would ponder all of what he heard. “I shall take it all to heart, trust me. My intentions are thus. Only please, sir, might I speak to you, for I am not yet ready to confess to a priest.”
“So I will do, will I?”
“Please, I cannot bear for it to be on my conscience one more moment.”
I remained and he told me what I have already told you about Prelati and the summoning.
Over the course of the next two days, he did a great deal of weeping and confessing. As a matter of fact, the next time he appeared before the court he was a thoroughly changed man.
Having been denied the rites of his church, he really did fear for his immortal soul. Suffice it to say, he recognized the authority of the court and admitted his crimes. He wept and asked forgiveness from the judges for his behavior in court.
The vice Inquisitor and bishop absolved him and re-admitted him to the Church.
I found that ridiculous, but then again I am not acquainted with the workings of the clergy. By the way, he admitted everything but left out the summoning.
The judges conferred briefly and ordered de Rais to be taken to the dungeon. When he returned, he looked dreadful. Whatever implements of torture he saw had spurred him to confess and he agreed to answer the judge’s questions. Thus, the confession was pried from him.
He was hanged. An interesting note here; he was to have been burned but his body was removed before that could happen. His family wished him buried with Catholic rites, you see.
Thus was the end of de Rais, or was it? Do you think he went to Hell, Rose?
Satan and I discussed this case many times. We could not get over the hypocrisy of the Church. Surely, some things are beyond forgiveness?
Still, as Father Satan said, who knows the workings of Heaven and the old man that runs it?
As for myself, I rather enjoyed passing myself off as a Papal Emissary. I felt I was in my element being wined and dined and catered to. I spent some time in this disguise until Father Satan suggested I travel east.
“It is time to create more covens, my boy. Think how much pleasure you will have”.
I did think about it. I remembered the pleasure I enjoyed previously. But then I recalled Hatua, the pure bred I loved and lost, and my heart sank.
Satan saw and chided me for being so foolish. “You don’t want to end up like Louis, do you?” he said. “That’s the last thing I want to see.”
I shrugged. “Louis is more content than I am,” I said.
“But you are not he.”
Actually, that was the worst thing he could have said as it only made me feel more morose.
I could see Satan was becoming increasingly annoyed with me and I didn’t wish that to happen. That was the last thing I’d have wanted.
He suggested I go off by myself then. “Go and consider your expectations as well as your destiny.”
Expectations, what expectations did I have? I told him I didn’t have any.
“You have, although you don’t know it. It is all tied together. It is up to you to find it.”
I left to journey east and existed for many years in the caves near Jerusalem. I imagined how I’d react were Jesus to appear. I wondered if he’d have regarded me as he once did, as he did that time before Ankata destroyed herself.
Then suddenly, I imagined I heard a voice whisper. “You are demon spawn and from Hell. Do not think you are more than that.”
Demon spawn I was and demon spawn I would always be.
Satan was to visit me many times there. Each time he came he’d try to entice me away to create more covens and to bed wrenches but that was something I did not wish to do then. However, that celibate whim was not to last.
Things were about to change, for next time I would see him he was to tell me of a certain infant whose soul he had gotten long ago. The infant’s name was Erzsebet Bathory.
Erzebet Bathory chapter
Erzebet Bathory chapter
(chapter from Unholy Testament the Beginnings, BOOK 2 IN THE SERIES).
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