Donatien Alphonse François, Comte de Sade, (2 June 1740 – 2 December 1814), better known as the Marquis de Sade) was a French nobleman, writer and philosopher who was born in Paris. The de Sade family were French nobility, who came from Provence. Different members of the house held positions in the Church, and the French state at different times.
The main points he was accused of were:
- Whipping a prostitute.
- Drugging prostitutes and later forcing them to have group sex, and also engage in sodomy.
On one of his escapades, he "accidentally" raped a close relative of his, who was a nun. This caused his family to drop him, and to hand him over to the authorities.
For this, he was sentenced to death (while being absent). He later escaped the death penalty by moving to Italy. The death penalty against him was later changed to a prison sentence.
In prison, he started to read about philosophy. He also started to write down his ideas. He tried to hide his writing, and also wrote in a very small print, so that the consumption of paper would not be noticed.
In later years, he was moved to an asylum (for the mentally ill), and gave his wife the possibility of a divorce.
After the French Revolution, he got out of the asylum, but in 1803 was declared mentally ill (and again was sent to the asylum). He died in the asylum in Val-de-Marne in 1814 at the age of 74.
The term 'sadism' was named after him. It refers to the habit of getting pleasure from giving pain.