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Strange history: The beast of Gevaudan

Wikimedia Commons/Bearerofthecup
Wikimedia Commons/Bearerofthecup
The wolf shot by François Antoine on 21 September 1765, displayed at the court of Louis XV

What is the beast of Gevaudan? If you've asked yourself this question, this article may shed some light about the history of this so called French werewolf. It was a strange piece of history that is for sure.

What is the Beast of Gevaudan?

The beast of Gevaudan is basically a man-eating wolf-like creature that allegedly terrorized the Province of Gevaudan from 1764-1767. It was actually two beasts, but after the first one was murder, the killings never stopped. The man who killed the first beast was Francois Antoine. The beast that he shot was 31 inches high, 5.6 ft long, and weighed around 130 lbs. It was said to be the beast because its scars. Antoine thought the animals scares were from the victims struggling to escape. Of course there are other explanations for scars on a wolf, but Antoine thought he had the beast.

The second beast was killed by Jean Chastel, when he killed the animal he opened it up and saw human remains. Some researchers say that the second beast that Jean Chastel killed could have been a pet of his that he trained and then killed just for publicity. Like Antoine's beast it is not fully known if it really was or wasn't the beast of Gevaudan. All that is known is these two beast are written down in history as "French Monsters."

What did this creature look like?

The creature was reported being as large as a calf, and it was covered with fur that was reddish. The head was big and wolf-like, and it was more brown than the rest of the body. The creatures's jaws were always gaping, the ears were short and straight. The chest was white and broad, the tail was long and thick, and the back paws were very large and long.

Who were some of the first victims?

On June 1, 1764 a woman from Langogre told a story about how a creature chased her. She said that she saw a large lupine animal emerge from the trees and it then charged tours her, but it was driven away by a farm's bull. The first official victim was on June 30th it was a fourteen year old girl named Jeanne Boult.

What exactly could this creature be?

Some researchers have came up with their own ideas on what the creature could have really been. According to the show on the history channel, "The Real Wolfman," this beast could have happened to be an Asian Hyena. Richard H. Thompson an author said that the creature could have been a cross breed from wild wolves and domestic dogs. Even though it is stated in documents, people still don't believe it was a wolf or a werewolf. In 1760s though they believed it was one of those two. In that time they thought it was an act of God punishing them. In the film "Brotherhood of the Wolves" they use that has the basis of their film. There is no real answer to this mystery because everyone has a different opinion on it.

The Beast and Pop Culture?
Pop culture is known for taking old myths and such and making them into films, books, and TV. Such examples are the usual, Dracula, the Wolf Man, and Ghost stories/movies. The Beast of Gevaudan was no exception as you can see by the list:

Films:

Literature:

  • Robert Louis Stevenson, Travels with Donkey in the Cevennes
  • Patrica Briggs, Hunting Ground

Television:

  • History Channel "Real Wolfman" (A very good documentary!)

Here is a link for more information if this interests you, click here. Hope these questions help you for researching or make you want to look into this topic more. It's quite chilling and interesting at once.