I have a soft spot in my heart for Gilles de Rais, the French madman, necromancer, and serial killer of children who inspired Charles Perrault’s fairytale “Bluebeard.” (Or was Gilles de Rais innocent, as many have claimed? Was he framed by greedy family members and corrupt politicians?) Gilles de Rais was a soldier, a war hero who fought alongside Joan of Arc before getting pinched for killing kids, and I found his story fascinating enough to write a play about him. (BLUEBEARD: THE TRIAL OF GILLES DE RAIS was staged earlier this year, and I’m pleased to report it was a big success.) The connection between Gilles and the Bluebeard character is widely accepted by historians, but I confess that I did encounter other contenders for that honor during my research for the play. One of those, the most likely suspect second to Gilles de Rais himself, was Conomor the Cursed.
Not as much is known about Conomor as about Gilles. The former lived in the 500s AD in Brittany, France. (The same area from which Gilles de Rais hailed, ironically enough.) He was a werewolf. (A“bisclaveret”; it appears the French use more than just the familiar term “loup garou” to refer to a werewolf.) And he MAY have been ONE OF the inspirations for Bluebeard. Read about Conomor in depth here, if you so desire.