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The Death of Servet. October 27, 1553.

Michael Servetus, also known as Miguel Servet, was a Spanish theologian, physician, cartographer, and Renaissance humanist. He was the first European to correctly describe the function of pulmonary circulation, as discussed in his book Christianismi Restitutio (1553). He was a polymath versed in many sciences: mathematics, astronomy and meteorology, geography, human anatomy, medicine and pharmacology, as well as jurisprudence, translation, poetry and the scholarly study of the Bible in its original languages. When Juan de Quintana, an imperial theologian became Confessor to the Habsburg emperor Charles V, Servetus joined him in the imperial retinue as his secretary. Servetus travelled through Italy and Germany, and attended Charles‘ coronation as Holy Roman Emperor in Bologna. He was...

The Conviction of de Rais. September 15, 1440.

Even if there had been nothing else unusual about the Breton nobleman Gilles de Rais (1404–40), his outstanding career as a soldier in the Hundred Years’ War and as a comrade in arms of Joan of Arc would have been enough to guarantee his place in history. Today, though, those achievements can only be seen in the shadow of the secret life he led as the perpetrator of more than a hundred gruesome child murders, a rampage which made him arguably the first serial killer in recorded history. The early life of Gilles de Rais was marked by tragedy. Both his parents died about 1415: his father, Guy de Laval, was killed in a hunting accident that de Rais may have witnessed, and his mother, Marie de Craon, died of an unknown cause. He was raised by his maternal grandfather, Jean de Craon. As a young...

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