17. The Original Rich Sadist
Donatien Alphonse Francois, Comte de Sade, better known to history as the Marquis de Sade (1740 – 1814), was a rich French aristocrat. He became so notorious for his deviant sexual practices, perversions, and erotic writings which combined pornography with philosophy and violent sexual fantasies, that his name gave rise to the terms sadist and sadism. De Sade was a pervert who is known to history only for being a pervert. He did write about politics and philosophy. However, if not for the sexually deviant things that he did, and the sexually deviant things that he wrote about really liking to do, little would be known today about history’s most famous Marquis.
An advocate of radically unrestrained freedom, de Sade’s sexual fantasies emphasized violence, criminality, and blasphemy. That, and his real-life indulgence in criminally violent sexual practices, kept him behind bars in prisons and insane asylums for most of his adult life. On and off, he spent 32 years behind bars, including 10 years in the Bastille. Most of his writings were penned while he was incarcerated. It all began with an early addiction to prostitutes, and addiction to mistreating them. In the early 1760s, he first appears in the record after numerous Paris prostitutes complained of his mistreatment. That led to several short jail stints, before he was exiled from Paris to his countryside residence. The details of the abuse are murky, but the fact a French aristocrat ended up behind bars during the Ancien Regime, based on his treatment of prostitutes, indicates seriousness.