Bluebeard
Bluebeardism, n.
/blooh"beard'/, n.
1. a fairy-tale character whose seventh wife found the bodies of her predecessors in a room she had been forbidden to enter.
2. any man alleged to have murdered a number of his wives or other women.

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or Gilles de Rais or Gilles de Retz

born Sept./Oct. 1404, Champtocé, Fr.
died Oct. 26, 1440, Nantes

Baron and marshal of France renowned for his cruelty.

His name was later connected with the story "Bluebeard" by Charles Perrault. He fought several battles at the side of St. Joan of Arc and was made marshal of France (1429). Back in Brittany he led a dissipated life and eventually turned to alchemy and satanism. Accused of abducting and murdering more than 140 children, he was tried by ecclesiastical and civil courts. Condemned for heresy, he confessed, repented, and died bravely at the gallows; his body was burned. Skeptics have noted irregularities in the trials and the interest of others in his ruin. The fairy-tale Bluebeard takes a wife, who, curious about the one room of the castle to which he denies her the key, discovers there the skeletons of her predecessors.

Bluebeard, illustration by Gustave Doré

By courtesy of the trustees of the British Museum; photograph, J.R. Freeman & Co., Ltd.

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▪ literary character
 murderous husband in a story, “La Barbe bleue,” in Charles Perrault's (Perrault, Charles) collection of fairy tales, Contes de ma mère l'oye (1697; Tales of Mother Goose). Similar stories exist in European, African, and Eastern folklore; the essentials are the locked and forbidden room, the wife's curiosity, and her 11th-hour rescue. Perrault's version probably derived from Brittany and may have been based on the career of the 15th-century marshal of France Gilles de Rais (Rais, Gilles de) and that of Comorre the Cursed, a 6th-century Breton chief, each of whom committed crimes similar to those in the Bluebeard stories.

      In an Estonian version, the wife is rescued by a gooseherd (or a page), a childhood friend who slays her husband and marries her. In the story “Feather-bird” in Grimms' Fairy Tales (1812–15), three sisters are the intended victims.

      The identification in some stories of Bluebeard with the devil and of the locked door as the gate of hell are probably later additions. Andrew Lang's translation (1888) of Perrault's Conte includes a close comparison with other folktales and details of the careers of Gilles de Rais and Comorre.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Bluebeard — is the title character in a famous fairy tale about a violent nobleman and his curious wife. It appeared in Charles Perrault s Les Contes de ma Mère l Oye , first published in 1697.ynopsisBluebeard was a wealthy aristocrat, feared because of his… …   Wikipedia

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  • Bluebeard — [blo͞o′bird΄] n. a character in an old folk tale who married and then murdered one wife after another …   English World dictionary

  • Bluebeard —    The eponym Bluebeard, a noun meaning a man who successively marries and murders several wives is the main character in Charles Perrault s story Barbe Bleue, published in Contes du Temps (1697). The adjective bluebeard means not to enter or be… …   Dictionary of eponyms

  • bluebeard — noun Usage: often capitalized Etymology: Bluebeard, a fairy tale character Date: 1822 a man who marries and kills one wife after another …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Bluebeard — /ˈblubɪəd/ (say bloohbeard) noun 1. (in folklore) a villainous man who marries and murders several wives; in a popular version his seventh wife finds in a forbidden room the bodies of the other six. 2. any man alleged to have murdered a number of …   Australian English dictionary

  • Bluebeard — …   Википедия

  • Bluebeard — noun a) A famous fairytale written by in 1697 about a violent nobleman who has the habit of murdering his wives and the attempts of his current wife to avoid the same fate. b) The nobleman who is the title character of the story …   Wiktionary

  • BLUEBEARD —    a wealthy seigneur, the owner of a castle; marries a beautiful woman, and leaves her in charge of the keys of the apartments in his absence, with injunctions not to unlock any of the doors, an injunction which she fails to respect, and finds… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Bluebeard — Blue|beard an evil character in old European stories who got married many times, and each time killed his wife …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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