While reading a book on vampires I came across a name I had never heard of before – Gabrielle de Launay. The book tells of her romantic, yet sad, story of love, life and death. While fascinating, her story, which went to trial in Paris in 1760, didn’t bring “vampire” to mind, yet here it is, in a vampire book. Instead of trying to figure out if the story is about vampires or not, I’ll tell the story and let you decide for yourself.
Gabrielle de Launay was a beautiful young French lady that lived during the 1700s, she was also the daughter of the president of the Tribunal of Toulouse. Gabrielle was madly in love with officer Maurice de Serres, but was forbidden to marry him by her father, who didn’t want his daughter to go to the Indies, where de Serres was being sent. So poor Gabrielle stayed in France alone, and de Serres left for the Indies.
Two years later word arrived that her beloved Maurice had been killed. Convinced that her love was dead, Gabrielle grudgingly agreed to marry President du Bourg, a man thirty years older than her. Five years passed and one day the never happy Gabrielle died. During the time, de Serres, who was in fact not dead, as reported, returned to Paris, where he learned of his love’s passing.
Maurice instantly went to the St. Roch Cemetery, where she was buried, and bribed the sexton to allow him to view the body. Overcome with grief, de Serres suddenly grabbed her corpse and ran off. The sexton put the empty coffin back and kept silent, lest the authorities learn of his crime.
Another five years passed, and du Bourg, while traveling through Paris spotted his dead wife. She drove away quickly, but he saw de Serres’ coat of arms on her coach. Du Bourg had to prove that Gabrielle was alive, and he did. He found that she was pretending to be the spouse of de Serres, Julie de Serres. His claim was proven by his small daughter, and the High Court ordered Gabrielle to return to her husband, saying that she had not died but had been in a catatonic state.
Du Bourg anxiously awaited his wife’s arrival, watching in horror as she staggered into the mansion. She had taken a fast-acting poison, dying at his feet as she declared: “I restore to you what you have lost.” At the same moment, de Serres killed himself.
And that is the terrible tale of Gabrielle de Launay. As I said, I read this story in a vampire book, but is it really about a vampire? I’ll let you decide.