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THE ORIGINAL BLUEBEARD

The story of Bluebeard and bis murdered wives Ib familiar to all, but few are aware that the tale is founded on fact, and that the Bluebeard of fiction was a mild and loveable oharaoter oompared to the Bluebeard of reality. la the yuar : 1396 Giles, Baron de Retz, was born m the dominion! of the Duke of Brittany. Be was a toembor of the noble house of Laval, and at an early age distinguished himself m the profession of arms, to whloh he was devoted heart and soul, leaving his great estates to follow the Duke m the nomeroai wars m which he was engaged. ■■-, 7 At the age of 33 he left the servloe of Brittany, and attached himself to the person of the Fcenoh King, engaged In fiaroo warfare with the English. A keen and gillant soldier, of noble family, he rose rapidly, was engaged la the Siege of Orleans with the heroic Joan of Aro;*and Gnally was, m return foe bis many aarvlcea, made marshal of /Trance. Whfle allll a young msn, strange and terrible rumors of atrooltlea committed by the Baron de JRe'« where whispered about. Ths oountry peasants wore heard to complain of tha mysterious disappearance of their obildren ; frlendloas young girls la tho neighbourhood of hii various castles vanished j and were never again he*ard of ; and It was said that the youog Baron conld solve the mystery, if he would. A strange woman, La Meffrale by name, of forbidding appearance, and wearing habitually a vail over her face, wa* continually seen about the person of the Baron de Retz, and her appearanoe In a village was nearly Invariably followed by tho disappearance of one or more children the latter always the cffrbrlng of the poorest peasants. Although among the peasantry de Re'a was op«nly accused of having made awsy with tha children, hii fame as a soldier, bis irfluenoe and the favor with which be was regarded first by the Dake of Brittany and afterwards by the French King, deterred all from charging one so powerful with snob frlpht. ful crimes before the tribunals, and for yoars Re z continued to advance In rank and power, It was observed as a ouriouß fact that ■ singular fatality attaohed to the numerous matrimonial alliances that hQ formed, ai before; he was 40 years of age he had married and lost no less than six' wives. This fact, more than the oo&plalntt and murmurs of the peasantry; began attract attention m high quarters, and when m the year 1440 de Re:* returned to Court from one of his numerous castles aud announced that his seventh wife, a lady of a noble French family, whom he had recently married, had died mddenly, her father obtained an audience with the King, and demanded that an investigation be made. After some hesitation, the King consented. De Betz was placed under arrest, audlthe body of his wife fxhumed. It was found to be terribly mutilated, and it wbb evident that the lady had mat her d« ath by violence. The oaetle was carefully and thoroughly searched, and found to be ~ a "perfect Golgotha. In the cellars, the vaults, and the deep oubliettes were found the bodies and skeletons of more than a score of human, bpinga, most of them children of tender years, but nq't a few were, young girls. De Reta wasoast into prison, and striotly guarded, while the searoh 1 waa pursued m all his oastles and 'the 1 towns *«<hinh he bad ruade bis temporary abode Wywber; were found; skeletons, blooa-Bmea"£2 clothing, and mutilated bodies, while ample proof was discovered that everyone of bis wives had. met her death by violence. When the gb.astly seju-oh was completed, and the number of the slain

reckoned, it was found tbat 13$ iu^ai) beings had fallen victima to the 1 "Baron?g inhuman thirst for blood. Hla accomplice, the woman known a* La Mefjfrale, was put to the rack, and made fall confession; She tojd the jadgei that for more than twenty yearg de;Ref $ had employed her to entice young children from their homes tnd bring them to him. Whoa be ijrst entered upon .hla bloody otreer he seemed io have' been suffering under a apeoies of religions insanity, as he gave strict orders that no ohild over seven years of age ohould be brought to him. These he killed, nsaertlog that the blood of an Innocent bhlld had power to oleams from gin v the man that shed it. His viatlms were ohoaeu from the lowest glace of the poaHantry, believing that by no doing he would 'escape all danger of ana* oossful prosecatloo, a view which events proved to have been a Qorrect one j bat this superstitious feature of his homJoldal mania aoon disappeared, giving way to an unadulterated thirst for blood. Not only were young children made the vlotlma of hta madaeaa, but all who fell into hd power who bo believed ould be safely aacrlgced. He waj gredlted with over 200 murdrra, the bodies of many of b'sj viatfm« not being discovered. Kle wn3 oonvioted. and expiated ha (rime on the ecaSold io 1440, bavi.iJ' far \lßhoi ;bo worjd. With an tx^nople if tti.ee y probiMw qerei e^uallifl

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http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18890112.2.17

Bibliographic details

THE ORIGINAL BLUEBEARD, Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2035, 12 January 1889

Word Count
876

THE ORIGINAL BLUEBEARD Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2035, 12 January 1889

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