Rouge d’Auneau and old Élouis (le père Élouis) were both members of a dreaded band of criminals called the Orgères gang (la bande d’Orgères) active in France between 1792 and 1798. François Ringuette, known as Rouge d’Auneau (a nickname he probably owed to the color of his hair) was for some time one of the leaders of the gang, a time when he also married the La Belle Victoire. His influence later declined, when supporters of brute force took the advantage over those who preferred to use cunning and trickery to seize farms. He could be seen around 1795 fitting this description:
He was a young man, almost a child, lean and short, with a long and pale face, and his right eye bloodshot and teary. His hair, reddish and dull, without any glint, was tied into a tail. He wore a carmagnole jacket with black and yellow stripes, suede pants, mottled socks and steel-buckled shoes. The whole costume showed claims to elegance, thwarted by the fortunes of a vagrant and villainous life(1).
He seems to have been known for his cruelty and was sentenced to death and executed on October 4, 1800, in Chartres, along with 23 other members of the gang.
Old Élouis is introduced to us as follows:
Old Élouis was tradition alive. This plump little old man, white-haired, with a venerable beard, fresh little round cheeks, small gray-blue eyes full of fire, attested to a strong, excellent health. And yet he had been around for over eighty years. He had known several generations of thieves, and he could have told the name of every famous bandit who had worked between Chartres and Etampes since Louis XIV. With his spotless blue jacket, his crude clogs and his canvas trousers, old Élouis had quite the look of a workshop patriarch(1).
He is credited with suggesting the idea of burning the victims’ feet to make them tell where their money was hidden. He died before the trial of the gang.
The caption reads in the original French:
Le père Élouis et le Rouge d’Auneau.