The Root of All Evil?
At this stage, Gilles’s worst crime was his spendthrift nature. For years, Gilles had been frittering away the fortune that de Craon had helped him to amass, spending large sums on tapestries, artwork, books, his furniture alone amounting to 100, 000 Francs. He had also not scrupled to sell off land when his latest whim demanded it, to de Craon’s horror. But when de Craon died in 1432, Gilles now came into full possession of one of the largest personal fortunes in the land, and began to spend it on a scale that had never been seen before in France.
In 1433, Gilles turned to more ambitious projects, including the construction of the Chapel of the Holy Innocents, near his castle as Machecoul. The Chapel was lavishly built on the scale of a great medieval cathedral, with 30 permanent staff including chaplains and choristers decked in expensive clothing, and solid gold ornaments. The choristers were paid sums entirely in keeping with the Chapel’s appearance. Gilles had a profound love of music, and so used to travel the country accompanied by the staff so that he could hear the choristers’ angelic singing wherever he went. Gilles also ordained himself Dean.
At least the Chapel was permanent. Gilles’s other great project around this time was Le MistÃ¨re du SiÃ¨ge d’OrlÃ©ans (âthe Mystery Play of the Siege of OrlÃ©ans’), a drama which he sponsored and essentially produced, advising on technical details, costumes, and suchlike. The play was performed in OrlÃ©ans itself, and the sum he poured into the spectacle equates to tens of millions of dollars in modern currency. Le MistÃ¨re had a cast of 140, with 600 walk-on parts, and was 20, 000 lines long. His love of drama aside, it is clear that Gilles was mourning his old friend, Joan.