Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Green Ghost Scam

This story took place in France in the mid-thirteenth century. It is considered to be one of the oldest cases of fraud that was officially recorded. 

What is amazing is the main player in this story, King Louis lX, had no idea that he was a victim of a very ingenious scam—even at the end. But as it turns out this scam was harmless and today people look back upon it with humor.

King Louis lX was the last king of France. His piety earned him the title of “Saint Louis”. 

King Louis heard about a like-mined group from his father confessor--  monks from the Saint Bruno order-- who impressed him with their pious goodness and learning. He  announced that he desired that a community of these monks be established near Paris.

The superior of Saint Bruno, Bernard de la Tour, sent six of his brethren to the village of Chantilly where King Louis gave them a handsome house. 

But once established these six monks noticed from their windows that a very imposing palace stood empty nearby. They discovered that this ancient palace of Vauvert had been built as a royal residence by King Robert—but had been deserted for many years.

The six monks decided that Vauvert would suit them but because it is said they possessed “an excessive modesty” they did not dare ask the King for a grant to live there. Instead, the Saint Bruno monks devised an ingenious plan, which they all agreed upon. 

Before their arrival in Chantilly, Vauvert had always had a stellar reputation in the neighborhood but with the arrival of the monks this palace's reputation changed drastically.

Vauvert quickly gained a bad name. 

Now, frightful shrieks were heard emitting from it at night. Witnesses began to see blue, red, and green glowing lights at its windows that would just disappear. The clanking of chains was heard within the palace and the howls of people seemingly in great pain were heard echoing from its walls. 

These disturbances were seen and heard for several months terrorizing the entire neighborhood.

King Louis was informed of all these unnatural occurrences. A description was given to him of a large apparition, which had a white beard and was cloaked all in pea-green. This apparition appeared to have a long serpents’ tail and was seen regularly at midnight at one of the palaces’ center windows. 

Several people who had dared to pass the palace at night stated this figure had shaken its fist at them and howled loudly. The king sent one of his commissioners to investigate.

When quizzed the six Chantilly monks feigned shock and stated they were very disturbed “that the devil should play such antics” and right near their own dwelling. 

They hinted to the king’s commissioner that if they were allowed to inhabit the palace, they soon would banish the evil spirits. The king grateful for their offer immediately drew up a royal order—that the palace of Vauvert would forthwith become the property of the monks of Saint Bruno. This deed is dated 1259.

Once the monks moved into Vauvert the unnatural activity ceased immediately. The lights disappeared and the monks stated they laid the green ghost to rest forever under the waters of the Red Sea. These six monks were indeed educated but as for being the most pious—I leave this to the reader to decide.

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