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Database: Marquis de Sade

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Donatien Alphonse François de Sade was born in 1740. He came from a typical noble French family, full of soldiers and clergymen, and entered the army at the age of 14. Apparently he didn't find it to his liking, because he left at the age of 31. De Sade was the quintessential black sheep: an atheist and great lover of the performing arts, he was above all a libertine, and used his family's wealth and influence to get away with an astonishing array of crimes. *
* Lucky that could never happen nowadays.
It's a telling symptom of the Ancien Regime's corruption that he was considered merely a scandalous figure and not a violent criminal.

Much of his adult life was spent shuffled between different prisons, where he wrote numerous texts, nearly all of which were deemed obscene and heavily censored. He was liberated in 1790 and, sensing the change that was in the air, renounced his title and got himself elected to the Convention. He continued to write in the same pornographic vein, while simultaneously pardoning nearly every criminal sent before him.**
** I had a headmaster a little like that for a while.
His governmental tenure was short-lived: In late 1793, openly critical of Robespierre, he was arrested for "moderatism" and imprisoned for a year. He never rejoined the political sphere, and in 1801, under Napoleon's orders, he was arrested once again and sent to prison, where he would remain until his death in 1814, having outlived a monarchy, a revolution and an empire.***
*** Still. At least he had his naughty writing to keep him warm at night.

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