The famous poet Petrarch sights 'Laura' for the first time and
writes a series of poems about her - this is actually Laure de
Sade. Otherwise, the line is a series of important political and
de Sade born June 2nd. His name was to be Louis Aldonse
Donatien, but became Donatien Alphonse Francois instead
(due to a mix-up).
Educated by the Jesuit Louis le Grand College, after six years
with his (somewhat licentious) uncle, the Abbe de Sade.
Enrolled in cavalry training at the Light Horse School. He was
appointed unpaid sublieutenant in the King's own infantry
regiment the next year.
Discharged with the rank of cavalry captain (after the end of
the seven year war). Had spent some time gambling and
'never miss[ing] a ball or show: outrageous!'. De Sade's
parents were in a sorry financial state at the time, and they had
plans for him - marriage. Indeed he was engaged
simultaneously to Lady Laure de Lauris and Lady Renee
Pelagie de Montreuil - the first of his own choosing, the second
as arranged by his family - a choice significantly down the
ranks of nobility, but which involved large sums of money. Lots
of wangling was done, with Sade's parents trying to hide their
son's conduct from the Montreuil family and Sade himself
trying to arrange to be with Laure. He was married to Renee on
May 15th. Despite being forced into the union, the two seemed
quite fond of each other (and though she did not share his
libertine leanings she seemed to understand them), and Laure
had found someone else.
Later he was imprisoned in Vincennes Fortress for
fifteen days on charges of excessive behaviour committed in a
de Sade was made Lieutenant-General of four provinces, and
was acting as producer at a private theatre. His wife also
helped at the theatre. His mistress for the next year or two was
a Lady Beauvoisin.
Louis Marie de Sade, our man's first son, was born on August
27th. The second was Donatien Claude Armand in 1769 and
Madeleine Laure came in 1771.
The flagellation of Rose Keller took place on April 3rd, Easter
Day. The woman had been picked up by Sade and taken back
to a house in Arcueil, where she was bound and flogged.
Whether this was rape or not was contested in court. Physical
evidence seems to support de Sade's story, but it's impossible
to tell either way. Certainly he was made an object of public
scorn over the affair. He was imprisoned but later released by
Rejoins the army, becoming a Colonel.
He spent a week in Fort l'Eveque prison for debts. He and his
family moved to a country manor at La Coste. Lady Anne,
younger sister of Renee, joined them, and already there is
evidence of sexual relations between her and her brother-in-
law (not to mention the Abbi, Sade's uncle).
He had a comedy of his own writing staged.
Half-way through the year he engaged four prostitutes
who, along with himself and his manservant Armand, engaged
in an orgy with much flogging all round (including of the
Marquis). During the event Sade offered the girls a number of
aniseed sweets which seem to have been doctored somewhat
inexpertly with Spanish fly and possibly another substance,
anodyne. Instead of the desired aphrodisiac affect, the
prostitutes became quite ill. The Marquis was brought to trial
for poisoning and sodomy. Avoiding the law he skipped off to
Italy and spent several months there, accompanied by Anne
whom he passed off as his wife. While Sade was executed in
effigy in Aix, the King of Sardinia had the man himself arrested
and imprisoned at the Fortress of Miolans. The arrest was
made at Marie Montreuil's request - this lady, Sade's mother-
in-law, no stranger to social climbing and intrigue, was to be
Sade's eternal nemesis.
After some five months captivity (in a room known as the Great
Hope - Interesting in a vague sort of fashion, his prison's levels
included Hell at the bottom, up through Purgatory, the
Treasure, the Hopes and Paradise.) Sade, along with two
others, escaped the fortress simply by climbing out a window
and running for the border. He left a note thanking the
Commandant for his kindness (followed by a request to send
his belongings, including his quite new blue frock cloak and
two recumbent china dogs, back to his manor at La Coste).
After some weeks the Marquis returned to La Coste himself,
instigating legal proceedings to get his name cleared, and on
careful guard against the occasional raids made on the
property to recapture him.
He held a series of orgies with his wife and young girls at La
Arrested in Paris and taken to Vincennes Fortress. He wife
petitioned long and hard for his release, but was not even told
where he was being held.
Refusing to plead insanity, the Marquis' 1772 case was retried
and he managed to clear himself of the charges - legally
making him a free man. But he remained in prison due to a
lettre de cachet in force - an arrangement by which a prisoner's
family (in this case his wife's parents) would pay for his 'rent' as
a tenant of the system.
While being transferred to Vincennes he contrived to elude his
four guards, returning to La Coste. A month later he was
Sade writes the first real attempt of his infamous style,
Dialogue of a Priest and a Dying Man. He started work on
The prisoner was removed from his prison as the building was
being closed. He was taken to the Bastille, still under the lettre
He started work on 120 Days of Sodom in the form we see it
The Marquis was making as much a nuisance of himself as
possible by this time, and had taken to drawing crowds outside
by shouting (through an impromptu megaphone) from the
windows that the guards were slaughtering the prisoners.
For his trouble he was transferred to Charenton Asylum
(who weren't too happy about it either). Ten days later the
Bastille was stormed, his possessions ransacked and
scattered, and 120 Days lost to him forever.
The Decree of Assembly released the majority of prisoners
held under lettre de cachet. After some fourteen years of
imprisonment, Citizen Sade walked free - into the middle of the
French Revolution. In grave financial circumstances, and with
Lady de Sade demanding a separation, he spent much time
writing plays, to variable success (he was much enamoured by
the theatre but never seemed to master the art - his best
received play is Oxtiern, or the Effects of Libertinage). Later
that year he would meet the last, greatest (and non-sexual)
love of his life, Marie Constance Quesnet.
The anonymous publication of Justine.
After 'proving' himself a loyal member of the revolution with a
series of political pamphlets (one of which he later claimed to
have had thrown into the King's own coach) Sade was made
Commissioner (whose duties consisted of management of the
Aline et Valcour is published under his own name, a novel of
psychological rather than physical cruelty, with its fair share of
suspense and social criticism to boot.
Held in contempt by one of the leaders of the
Revolution, Jean-Paul Marat, Sade unknowingly escaped the
guillotine only because of a mix-up in which the Marquis de la
Salle was renounced by mistake. Before he could correct the
error, Marat was killed.
The Montreuils, his former parents-in-law that had kept
him a prisoner for so long, came under Chairman Sade's
judicial power - and he acted to clear them of any charge.
Indeed he was loathe (discretely so) to apply the death penalty
He was arrested on suspicion of being an emigre
(someone who had escaped from the country!), and betrayed
by his colleagues because of his lax attitudes to 'law-
Sade escaped execution again - because the sheer number of
prisons and confusion of paperwork meant they couldn't find
him. Later that year he was released.
Philosophy in the Bedroom is published, a 'posthumous
work by the author of Justine'.
Justine was published in its final form (La Nouvelle
Justine), quickly followed by Juliette. Sade and Mme
Quesnet were having severe financial difficulties.
The Crimes of Love, a selection of stories and novellas, was
Sade was arrested and refused trial (because of the uproar it
would cause) for being the author of Justine and Juliette.
He was moved back to Charenton Asylum. Over sixty and in
poor health, he would stay here until his death. Marie Quesnet
was allowed to spend some time living with him whilst so
incarcerated, and he spent much of his time writing plays to be
performed by the inmates for the public. One of his doctors
tried to have him transferred to a proper prison since he wasn't
Writes Les Journies de Florbelle, his last great work, now
only existing in fragments.
The Marquis de Sade died on December the 2nd, aged 74. His
will left most of his money to Marie, though was contested by
one of his sons (who would later attend further book burnings).
- Once the grave is filled in, acorns are to be scatted over it, so that in time
the grave is again overgrown, and when the undergrowth is grown as it
was before, the traces of my grave will vanish from the face of the earth
as I like to think memory of me will be effaced from men's minds, save for
the tiny band of those who were kind enough to be fond of me to the end
and of whom I carry a very warm memory to the grave.
Return to Main Timeline Page