Francois Bertrand (sergeant)

Article

May 20, 2022

François Bertrand (born October 29, 1823 in Voisey in Haute-Marne and died February 25, 1878 in Le Havre), nicknamed the Necrophiliac Sergeant or the Vampire of Montparnasse, was a sergeant in the French army, known for having exhumed and mutilated corpses, mainly of women, in several French cemeteries, in particular in the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris, before performing acts of necrophilia and necrosadism on them.

Biography

Between the summer of 1848 and March 1849, a series of corpses were found exhumed and mutilated in Parisian cemeteries. The one the press calls "the Vampire of Montparnasse" still escapes the surveillance of gravediggers and guards. So that the authorities take the decision to install an infernal machine near the surrounding wall of the Montparnasse cemetery, where traces of mud indicate its passage. A discreet metal wire must trigger, if it is struck, a shot of grapeshot, which occurs on the night of March 15 to 16, 1849. Seriously wounded, Sergeant Bertrand is treated at Val-de-Grâce where he is d first saved, then entrusted to the military doctor Dr. Charles Marchal de Calvi (1815-1873), who collects his confidences and asks him to write them down. François Bertrand admits that as a teenager, he had the urge to kill women and masturbate on their corpses. He appears before the court-martial, where Dr. Marchal de Calvi pleads his irresponsibility because of a destructive monomania, complicated with erotic monomania. The court martial does not follow its conclusion, declares the sergeant responsible and condemns him to one year in prison, for "violation of burial" under article 360 ​​of the Penal Code. The writer Michel Dansel, who took up Sergeant Bertrand's entire career in his book: Sergeant Bertrand: portrait of a happy necrophiliac, found his trace after the necrophiliac had served his sentence: Bertrand was integrated into the second African light infantry battalion, responsible for building roads in Algeria, then returned to civilian life. In 1856, he married in Le Havre and did many small jobs: clerk, postman, lighthouse keeper. Michel Dansel attributes two burial violations to him, which occurred in the Le Havre region in 1864 and 1867.

Repercussions of his case on the psychiatric concepts of sexual deviations and perversions

The strangeness of the case of Sergeant Bertrand, and above all the fact that the court martial which judged this soldier did not follow Dr. Marchal de Calvi in ​​his argument in favor of a pathology characterized by a complicated "destructive monomania" of "erotic monomania", provoked the unanimous indignation of the alienist doctors of the time. Some have expressed their point of view through scholarly articles published in medical journals: Henri de Castelnau, Alexandre Brierre de Boismont, Claude-François Michéa, Félix Jacquot, Ludger Lunier. Brierre de Boismont, and Michéa have, on this occasion, placed necrophilia among other “morbid deviations of the venereal appetite” and Michéa has endeavored to classify them. Dr. Michéa's article, long considered by historians of ideas and morals as the first medical study of homosexuality (called philopedia by Michéa in his article), constitutes in truth the first scientific plea for the innateness of this disposition. , based on anatomical observations of the original bisexuality of mammalian embryos. It is proven that Michéa was himself a pederast [in the sense of this word in the 19th century]: the inscription of his name in the registers of pederasts of the Prefecture of Police is based on proven facts. The merits of Dr Claude-François Michéa (1815-1882), founding member