Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/881

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864
RAISIN

knights, squires, heralds and priests, more suited to royal than baronial rank. He kept open house, was a munificent patron of literature and of music, and his library contained many valuable works, he himself being a skilled illuminator and binder. He also indulged a passion for the stage. At the chief festivals he gave performances of mysteries and moralities, and it has been asserted that the M ystére de la Passion, acted at Angers in 1420, was staged by him in honour of his own marriage. The original draft of the Mystery of Orleans was probably written under his direction, and contains much detail which may be well accounted for by his intimate acquaintance with the Maid. In his financial difficulties he began to alienate his lands, selling his estates for small sums. These proceedings provided his heirs with material for lawsuits for many years. Among those who profited by his prodigality were the duke of Brittany, and his chancellor, Jean de Malestroit, bishop of Nantes, but in 1436 his kinsfolk appealed to Charles VII., who proclaimed further sales to be illegal. lean V. refused to acknowledge the king's right to promulgate a decree of this kind in Brittany, and replied by making Gilles de Rais lieutenant of Brittany and by acknowledging him as a brother-in-arms. Gilles hoped to redeem his fortunes by alchemy; he also spent large sums on necromancers, who engaged to raise the devil for his assistance. On the other hand he sought to guarantee himself from evil consequences by extravagant charity and a splendid celebration of the rites of the church. The abominable practices of which he was really guilty seem not to have been suspected by his equals or superiors, though he had many accomplices and his criminality was suspected by the peasantry. His wife finally left him in 1434-35, and may possibly have become acquainted with his doings, and when his brother René de la Suze seized Champtocé, all traces of his crimes had not been removed, but family considerations no doubt imposed silence. His servants kidnapped children, generally boys, on his behalf, and these he tortured and murdered. The number of his victims was stated in the ecclesiastical trial to have been 140, and larger figures are quoted. The amazing impunity which he enjoyed was brought to an end in 1440, when he was imprudent enough to come into conflict with the church by an act of violence which involved sacrilege and infringement of clerical immunity. He had sold Saint Etienne de Malemort to the duke of Brittany's treasurer, Geffroi le Ferron. In the course of a quarrel over the delivery of the property to this man's brother, Jean le Ferron, Gilles seized Jean, who was in clerical orders, in church, and imprisoned him. He then proceeded to defy the duke, but was reconciled to him by Richemont. In the autumn, however, he was arrested and cited before the bishop of Nantes on various charges, the chief of which were heresy and murder. With the latter count the ecclesiastical court was incompetent to deal, and on the 8th of October Gilles refused to accept its jurisdiction. Terrified by excommunication, however, he acknowledged the evidence of the witnesses, and by confession he secured absolution. He had been pronounced guilty of apostasy and heresy by the inquisitor, and of vice and sacrilege by the bishop. A detailed confession was extracted by the threat of torture on the 21st of October. A separate and parallel inquiry was made by Pierre de l'H6pital, president of the Breton parliament, by whose sentence he was hanged (not burned alive as is sometimes stated), on the 26th of October 1440, with two of his accomplices. In view of his own repeated confessions it seems impossible to doubt his guilt, but the numerous irregularities of the proceedings, the fact that his necromancer Prelati and other of his chief accomplices went unpunished, taken together with the financial interest of Jean V. in his ruin, have left a certain mystery over a trial, which, with the exception of the process of Joan of Arc, was the most famous in 15th-century France. His name is connected with the tale of Bluebeard (q.v.) in local tradition at Machecoul, Tiffauges, Pornic and Chéméré, though the similarity between the two histories is at best vague. The records of the trial are preserved in the Bibliothéque Nationale in Paris, at Nantes and elsewhere.

See Eugene Bossard, Gilles de Rais, dit Barbe Bleue (2nd ed., 1886), which includes the majority of the documents of the trial published originally by De Maulde; E. A. Vizetelly, Bluebeard (1902); H. C. Lea, Hist. of the Inquisition (iii. 468, seq.); A. Molinier, Les Sources de l'histoire de France (No. 4185). Huysmans in Là-bas describes his hero as engaged on a life of Gilles de Rais, and takes the opportunity for a striking picture of the trial.


RAISIN (Fr. raisin, grape; Lat. racemus), the name given to the dried fruits of certain varieties of the grape vine, Vitis vinifera, which grow principally in the warm climate of the Mediterranean coasts and are comparatively rich in sugar. The use of dried grapes or raisins as food is of great antiquity (Num. vi. 3; 1 Sam. xxv. 18, xxx. 12). In medieval times raisins imported from Spain were a prized luxury in England, and to the present day Great Britain continues to be the best customer of the raisin-producing regions. “ Raisins of the sun ” are obtained by letting the fruit continue on the vines after it has come to maturity, where there is sufficient sunshine and heat in the autumn, till the clusters dry on the stocks. Another plan is partially to sever the stalk before the grapes are quite ripe, thus stopping the flow of the sap, and in that condition to leave them on the vines till they are sufficiently dry. The more usual process, however, is to cut off the fully ripe clusters and expose them, spread out, for several days to the rays of the sun, taking care that they are not injured by rain. In unfavourable weather they may be dried in a heated chamber, but are then inferior in quality. In some parts of Spain and France it is common to dip the gathered clusters in boiling water, or in a strong potash lye, a practice which softens the skin, favours drying and gives the raisins a clear glossy appearance. Again, in Asia Minor the fruit is dipped into hot water on the surface of which swims a layer of olive oil, which communicates a bright lustre and softness to the skin. Some superior varieties are treated with very great care, retained on their stalks, and sent into the market as clusters for table use; but the greater part are separated from the stalks in the process of drying and the stalks winnowed out of the fruit. Raisins come from numerous Mediterranean localities, and present at least three distinct varieties—(1) ordinary or large raisins, (2) sultana seedless raisins, and (3) currants or Corinthian raisins (see Currant). The greater proportion of the common large raisins of English commerce comes from the provinces of Malaga, Valencia and Alicante in Spain; these are known by the common name of Malaga raisins. Those of the finest quality, called Malaga clusters, are prepared from a variety of muscatel grape, and preserved on the stalks for table use. This variety, as well as Malaga layers, so called from the manner of packing, are exclusively used as dessert fruit. Raisins of a somewhat inferior quality, known as “ lexias,” from the same provinces, are used for cooking and baking purposes. Smyrna raisins also come to some extent into the English market. The best quality, known as Elemé, is a large fruit, having a reddish-yellow skin with a sweet pleasant flavour. Large-seeded dark-coloured raisins are produced in some of the islands of the Greek archipelago and in Crete, but they are little seen in the British markets. In Italy the finest raisins are produced in Calabria, inferior qualities in central Italy and in Sicily. From the Lipari Islands a certain quantity of cluster raisins of good quality is sent to England. In the south of France raisins of high excellence—Provence raisins in clusters—are obtained at Roquevaire, Lunel and Frontignan. Sultana seedless raisins are the produce of a small variety of yellow grape, cultivated exclusively in the neighborhood of Smyrna. The vines are grown on a soil of decomposed hippurite limestone, on sloping ground rising to a height of 400 ft. above the sea, and all attempts to cultivate sultanas in other raisin-growing localities have failed, the grapes quickly reverting to a seed-bearing character. The dried fruit has a fine golden-yellow colour, with a thin, delicate, translucent skin and a sweet aromatic flavour. A very fine seedless oblong raisin of the sultana type with a brownish skin is cultivated in the neighborhood of Damascus.