As mentioned above, Gilles remained a pious man right up until his death. Thus, when he heard the sentence passed against him, he requested the opportunity to make a confession to a holy man, in order to cleanse his soul as much as possible. His confession to the Carmelite Monk, John Juvenal, is sadly not recorded: Confession was a sacrament in the medieval Catholic Church, and was kept private between confessor and penitent. There is also nothing unusual in Gilles making a confession, as the Church insisted on the need for every Catholic to confess several times a year.
On October 26, just a day after he was sentenced, Gilles left his prison at La Tour Neuve, Nantes, and was accompanied in solemn procession to the place of execution by the Bishop of Nantes and a great crowd chanting prayer and song for his soul. His weeping contrition at the recent trial had secured him this final, theatrical boon. Gilles was first hanged, then thrown into a fire. However, he had successfully petitioned for one last favour from the Church: four noble ladies were allowed to extract his body before it immolated, and place it in a coffin.
Gilles was buried in the church of the Carmelite Monastery at Nantes. Poitou and another accomplice, Henriet, received no such âleniency’, and were simply reduced to ashes in the fire. Many later historians have sneered at the Church’s generous treatment of the condemned nobleman, but they were simply adhering to the practices of their day. Gilles had confessed and shown contrition, and thus it was the Church’s mandate to absolve him. As they said in their sentencing, âyou should be punished and corrected for your salvation, as law and holy canons require’. Regardless, he still died in great pain.