Life of Pélagie
Have you ever heard of Renée-Pélagie de Montreuil? (December 3, 1741 – July 7, 1810) She married at 21 Marquis D.A.F. de Sade, 22 at the time. She was of a wealthy family and the the Sade family was in a spot of financial trouble. So a marriage was arranged on May 17, 1763 to the Marquis de Sade by her unscrupulous parents. He already was a libertine and atheist. Yet, from the day they met, Renée Pélagie fell passionately in love with her husband and devoted herself totally to him. It’s Sade’s first and only marriage.
From her marriage to Donatien Alphonse Francois de Sade Pélagie had two sons and a daughter.
Though his marriage lasted 27 years, Sade spent 15 of them in jail or on the lam. Even when he was a free man, his taste for prostitutes and kinky sex kept him frequently on the road. Like everything else, Pélagie seems to have taken these absences in stride, just as she looked the other way while De Sade seduced her
10-year-younger sister Anne-Prospère de Launay, and became his mistress with her blessing.
On the eve of her husband’s release from the Bastille, she obtains a formal separation and promptly drops out of his life. She returned to being the conventional creature she had been before she met Donatien de Sade and spent the rest of her life in religious devotion.
Life of Donatien
De Sade an easy target for the rebellious municipal courts in their war against the arbitrary juridical treatment meted out by the Crown. In 1768, already in detention in a royal jail on charges of whipping a woman until she bled, the Marquis was pursued with single-minded zeal by the Paris court, which publicly denounced his crime and issued a warrant for his arrest.
The Marquis, however, was a repeat offender, and no amount of historical context can explain away his penchant for self-destruction. Typical of his escapades, Sade blithely engaged six adolescents to ”work” at his estate, despite serious continuing legal trouble and heavy surveillance by the authorities. Six weeks later, the region was buzzing with news of wild orgies at the castle, and the parents of the young hires were suing the Marquis on charges of abduction and seduction.
|Marquise de Sade
Through sex scandals, police raids and prison terms, Renee-Pelagie de Montreuil de Sade, the Marquis’s plain and unschooled wife, remained a model of devotion. Though what was demanded of her — particularly in the conjugal bed — might not always have been to her liking, Pelagie never wavered. While her husband languished in the Bastille, Pelagie lived hand-to-mouth just to keep him in cutting-edge frippery and rich desserts.
During a single month in 1784, according to prison logs, she had 12 packages of strawberries delivered to his cell. When she wasn’t traipsing around Paris in doomed efforts to satisfy his wants, she was busy petitioning for his release, overseeing his real estate holdings and paying him marital visits (she bore him a child conceived in the Lyons jail).
The single recorded exception in this exemplary servitude involved a request from the Marquis for custom dildos. Dutifully, Pelagie approached local cabinetmakers, only to have them laugh in her face when they learned the proposed objects’ dimensions. ”I beg you to release me from this errand,” she entreated her husband, apparently to no avail. But even this was humiliation in the name of a greater good: ”It was solely through Pelagie’s love and dedication that the Marquis de Sade’s talents were able to flower and become part of the Western heritage.” In other words, without his wife’s tireless ministrations, the irascible Marquis might never have written a word.