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Eugène François VIDOCQ

French Eugène François VIDOCQ

French criminalist

Source :  Marie DURAND

Born: on July 24, 1775 in Arras, Pas-de-Calais, France
Died: on May 11, 1857 in Paris, France


Vidocq was born the third child of the baker Nicolas Joseph François Vidocq (1744–1799) and his wife Henriette Françoise Vidocq (1744–1824, née Dion).

Little is known about the childhood of Vidocq, most of it from his ghost-written biography and a few documents in French archives. His father was well-educated and for those days very wealthy since he also operated as a corn dealer. Vidocq had six siblings: two older brothers (one of whom had already died at the time of Vidocq's birth), two younger brothers and two younger sisters.

Vidocq's teens were turbulent. He is described as being fearless, rowdy and cunning, very talented, but also very lazy. He spent much time in the armories (fighting halls) of Arras and acquired a reputation as a formidable fencer and the nickname "le Vautrin" (wild boar[N 2]) By stealing, he provided himself with some level of comfort.

When Vidocq was thirteen years old he stole his parent's silver plates but spent the money from them within one day. Three days after the theft he was arrested and brought to the local jail Baudets.[N 3] Only ten days later he learned that his father was the one who arranged for the arrest to teach him a lesson. After a total of fourteen days he was dismissed from prison, but even this warning and further punishment could not tame him.

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