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Archive for January 12th, 2015

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Bluebeard: Brave Warrior, Brutal Psychopath by Valerie Ogden

4 stars

(Excerpt from Amazon) Joan of Arc’s close companion on the battlefield, one of the wealthiest and most respected men in France, became a notorious serial killer, nicknamed Bluebeard, who performed bizarre sexual rituals, brutal mutilations and murders on hundreds of children. How could this happen to Baron Gilles de Rais, a Marshal of France, a renowned intellectual, a paragon of the high medieval prince, almost Renaissance in his talents and accomplishments?

There is no clear explanation. There is only speculation. Yet historic evidence indicates strongly de Rais, a returning soldier, suffered from severe PTSD, which perhaps triggered his latent psychopathic personality. His extreme depravity, his shocking fall from grace and explosive end, add fuel to the precept that the barbarity of war turned this celebrated hero into a monster.

According to Wikipedia, Bluebeard is a French folktale of a “violent nobleman in the habit of murdering his wives and the attempts of one wife at avoid the fate of her predecessors.” Valerie Ogden links the Bluebeard story to Baron Gilles de Rais through research and records. This story is her version of the tale. From the early loss of his parents, his cruel grandfather encouraging bad behaviors, fighting along side Joan of Arc, and his fall into madness. Along the way, Valerie Ogden analysis de Rais behaviors with current psychological conditions from bipolar to PTSD to explain his behavior.

I admit that I went into this story thinking it would be an adapted history about Gilles de Rais. This book is more a history of the time period of de Rais. You will learn about other nobles, rules, clergy and such going on. There are also extensive descriptions of feasts, gatherings, and other events. There is a touch of things de Rais does and a couple events he goes through but not to the extent that I was hoping for.

There are also vague references to Gilles de Rais. I understand that this information is coming from badly kept records so there is a lot of room to interpret what happens. But I have to say reading about how de Rais had all these homosexual conquests and torture of children but there is nothing that really gives me the impression that these things really happened or if someone was just trying to ruin his reputation.

I also was hoping for more with Joan of Arc but I was disappointed that there was little information of de Rais and how he fought beside her. I was also left confused with how he could be this cruel child killer but turn saint when around Joan of Arc. Then he goes back to being this serial murderer. I understand how the different events could shape him and bring on this behavior but something about this seems odd to me.

If you are looking for a book with more historical facts around this time period I think this would be a book that you would like. For me, I admit that I didn’t expect what was in the book. That’s not to say it is not a good book.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

For more information on Bluebeard be sure to check out Amazon, Barnes and NobleGoodreads or Valerie Ogden’s website.

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