Who Was Marquis de Sade, What is He Known For and Why Was He Imprisoned?

The French nobleman Marquis de Sade was known for a lot of things when he was alive and the list ranges from sexual escapades to political matters. Sade had an outlook on life that is best described as eccentric because his exploits were clearly acts of sadism. It is even known that he got his name from the word ‘Sadism’ and he lived up to his name. Know all about Marquis de Sade’s escapade which made him popular and his imprisonment in this piece.

Who Was Marquis de Sade?

He is an erotic writer who was born as Donatien Alphonse François de Sade on June 2, 1740, in Paris. He was the only child of Jean Baptiste François Joseph, the Count de Sade, and Marie Eléonore. His father was a politician who worked for King Louis XV. However, Jean Baptiste later deserted his family and shortly after his departure, his wife, Marie joined the convent. Marquis de Sade who was still a child when his parents’ marriage ended, was left under the care of his uncle.

Sade’s childhood was far from normal as he was left at the mercies of housekeepers in his uncle’s house. He eventually grew up resenting everyone around and by the time he was 7 years old, he was already very violent and destructive. Marquis de Sade ended up causing so much trouble for his uncle’s household that he was sent off to study at Lycée Louis-le-Grand at age 10. However, he refused to be tamed even in school and his constant misconduct attracted punishment on several occasions. His heady and unruly behaviour got worse when he got accustomed to the many punishments he was subjected to. After four years in the boarding school, he was sent to a military school to complete his education.

What Was he Known For?

When he completed his education, Sade still maintained his brutal behavior which only got worse after his marriage to Renee Pelagie. Marquis de Sade developed unusual sexual passions and was notable for several sexual scandals. He had an affair with his wife’s sister and often patronized both male and female prostitutes.

Apart from frolicking with prostitutes, Marquis de Sade was known for the brutal treatment he meted out to his servants which range from physical abuse to sexual molestations. Stories have it that he often employed people just to take advantage of them.

It is also interesting to know that this morally depraved man was a writer. He penned down several books that were inspired by his real-life experience like the ‘Les 120 Journées de Sodome’, or ‘120 Days of Sodom: The School of Libertinage’ – with the storyline of young men who held prostitutes hostage and molested them until they died. Marquis de Sade is also the author of controversial books like ‘Justine’ and ‘Julliette’ which were filled with stories surrounding rapes, orgies, violence, murder and so on.

While he lived, Sade was known to have meddled in some government affairs and wrote several short magazines about his stance on such government affairs. This landed him into a lot of squabbles with government officials especially his Maximilien Robespierre write up.

The Marquis’ Imprisonment and Death

For a man like Marquis de Sade, it was obvious that his reckless way of living would one day land him in prison. This eventually happened to be the case after he made a prostitute use the crucifix in their sexual escapades. For reasons best known to the prostitute, she reported the incidence to the police and Sade was apprehended for blasphemy.

This in addition to a former arrest in a case of violence that got him arrested in 1768 when he cut his maid with a knife and dripped hot candle wax on the wound, saw him end up in jail. However, Marquis de Sade paid his way out of jail after compensating the victims. He was again apprehended on grounds of violence when he and his wife held 5 women and a man hostage in their home. He got a death sentence which was later withdrawn but saw Sade spend several years locked up.

See Also: 12 Famous Assassinations That Changed The Changed The Course of History

It was expected that his controversial write-ups would land him in prison and in 1801, his book ‘Juliette’ – which was not only a sexually depraved piece but also an attack on the Catholic church, got him a jail sentence. Moreso, due to his bad behavior in jail – as he tried to sexually molest inmates, he was sent to solitary confinement. While his time in prison lasted, Marquis de Sade was banned from writing and on December 2nd, 1814, his body was found lifeless in his prison cell.


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