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The Marquis de Sade
A Life

The definitive biography by Neil Schaeffer

Home : Life & Times : Marriage (1763 - 1771)

the royal prison at Vincennes1763
February 10, the Paris Peace Treaty marks the end of the Seven Years' War. Sade is demobilized and enjoys himself in Paris with balls and actresses while his father attempts to negotiate a marriage for his son with the rich but socially inferior Montreuil family.

March, Sade woos Laure de Lauris, of a noble Provencal family, but flees to Avignon when her father discovers him in her bedroom.

April, from Avignon, Sade woos Laure by letter. When she rejects him, he accuses her of infecting him with a venereal disease, and threatens to tell her new lover all about it.

May 17, Sade reluctantly returns to Paris to marry the woman he had seen for the first time only two days before the ceremony. She is Renée-Pélagie de Montreuil. The newlyweds live with the Montreuils in Paris. Almost immediately, Sade's mother-in-law, Mme de Montreuil, concludes that Sade's father has cheated the couple of the money he promised in the Marriage Contract.

June, Sade continues libertine activities with prostitutes in his secret apartment on the rue Mouffetard.

August, Sade brings his wife to his in-laws' estate, Echauffour, in Normandy.

October 15, Sade returns to Paris alone on business, but on October 18 hires a prostitute, Jeanne Testard, who the next day complains to the police about his sacrilegious conversation. She did not claim to have been assaulted in any other way but verbally.

October 29, Sade is arrested and imprisoned in the Royal chateau of Vincennes by means of a lettre de cachet.

November 13, Sade is released to exile at Echauffour under the continuing surveillance of Inspector Louis Marais, the head of the Vice Squad.

1764
January, Sade's uncle, the abbé, publishes the first volume of his Life of Petrarch.

April 3, Sade is granted permission to return to Paris.

July, Sade begins a successful courtship of Colet, a young actress-courtesan.

November, Inspector Marais warns the proprietress of a bordello not to permit Sade to take girls away with him to his private apartments.

1765
February 8, Inspector Marais, still keeping Sade under surveillance, reports that the marquis slept with the actress La Beaupré.

April 26, Inspector Marais reports that Sade has become the third among the lovers of Beauvoisin, an actress-courtesan.

Summer, Sade takes Beauvoisin to La Coste, his ancestral home in Provence. Sade's uncle, the abbé, keeps Mme de Montreuil informed; she is most concerned about the public scandal and agrees to help him keep her daughter in the dark.

1766
January, Inspector Marais continues to report on Sade's exploits with actresses and prostitutes.

January 18, Sade injures a horse with his epee in a traffic dispute.

Summer, Sade supervises construction of a private theater at his chateau of La Coste.

1767
January 24, Sade's father dies, having left his considerable debts for his son to pay.

August 27, Sade's wife gives birth to their first son, Louis-Marie, in Paris.
1768
February, Sade disturbs his neighbors at his rented pleasure house in Arcueil, outside Paris, by bringing prostitutes there.
the streets of LaCoste
April 3, Easter Sunday, Sade takes a prostitute, Rose Keller, to his Arcueil house for a whipping. She escapes and presses charges. Even though Keller drops the charges for a generous settlement, the extraordinary public scandal forces the King to imprison the marquis under a lettre de cachet to remove him from ordinary prosecution.

November 16, Sade is released from prison to go into exile at his chateau of La Coste.
1769
April 2, Sade is granted permission to return to Paris for medical treatment.

June 27, Sade's wife gives birth to their second son, Donatien-Claude-Armand.

September to October, Sade travels in Holland, keeping a journal of his impressions.

1770
Sade is not permitted to appear at Court; moreover his efforts to actively rejoin his regiment are rebuffed.

1771
April 17, the Sades' third child is born, Madeleine-Laure.

September, Sade is released after a short stay in Fort-l'Evêque for debt. Sade takes his wife and children to live at La Coste, and is soon joined there by his wife's younger sister, Anne-Prospère, who soon becomes his lover. Through the winter and spring, Sade puts on plays at his chateaux using a troupe of professional actors.

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