Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wednesday Weird: La Bête du Gévaudan

I really thought I had done a Wednesday Weird on this topic before, but I checked all my posts and I couldn't find one, so proceed I shall.

La Bete du Gevaudan (the beast of Gévaudan) was a real wolf-like monster that prowled the Auvergne and South Dordogne areas of France 1764 -1767, killing people often in bizarre circumstances. Many men and professional hunters would try to kill the beast, but almost all of them would fail.

The first recorded attack was a young woman in 1764. The beast approached her as she was tending oxen. Her dogs fled, but the oxen drove the beast away. Shortly after the beast would kill 14-year-old Janne Boulet.

After that, the beast would spend two years hunting and killing men, women and children. Most often it would attack single people as they tended their animals in fields or in the woods, but on more than one occasion it would attack larger groups of people, sometimes succeeding in killing multiple victims. Often times only pieces of victims would be found, if their bodies were found at all.

The number of attacks vary, depending on the source, but it killed somewhere between 60 and 113 adults and children, and injuring another 30-49. Many of the victims killed were partly eaten, and it frequently focused its attacks on the throat or head.

Descriptions also vary, but what most people agreed on was that it was reminiscent of a wolf, but the size of a calf or a donkey. It had a strange red coat, square head with small ears and white chest. It had a strangely long tail, like a cat.



On more than one occasion peasants or professional wolf hunters would shoot the beast, and the bullets would not kill it. There were also rumors that perhaps the beast wasn't alone, because more than once attacks happened at almost the same time.

Many wolves were killed in the attempt to put an end to the beast. Louis XV offered rewards and sent hunters to help, but though one hunter did kill a particularly large wolf (5'7" in length) it would prove to not be the beast, as the killing continued a month later.

The man credited with finally putting an end to the beast is Jean Chastel, a 60 year old man sent to hunt the beast. He shot the beast with his shotguns and his dogs finished the deed.
Upon examination, witnesses would stand by the fact that the beast was not a wolf, but by the time the body arrived in Paris it was so putrefied that it was buried immediately.

Nowadays many people think the beast was a wolf, perhaps deformed, or a wolf-dog hybrid, or something else entirely. Unfortunately we'll probably never know for sure what it was. But regardless, it did indeed kill many people, an act that would be strange for any animal, monster or not.

It is still a famous bit of strange history and occasionally shows up in pop culture

If you haven't seen this movie, you should. It deals directly with the beast and is also pretty good

Thoughts or theories?


Maria Zannini said...

I liked the movie except for the very end. I thought it went typical Hollywood when it solved the mystery. It kind of ruined it for me, but the rest of it was pretty good.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

As I was reading this, The Brotherhood of the Wolf came to mind! Great movie. Wonder if their version of the beast was true?

Matthew MacNish said...

I wonder if there are any combos in nature like the Liger that we're less aware about. Like a hybrid species that can't reproduce, but makes large, killer monsters that roam around until they die.

I would guess this thing came from a bear that had sex with a mountain lion and a wolverine at the same time.

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

Definitely a were.

How exciting.

They're out there.

Anne Gallagher said...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Rena said...

This is pretty awesome, but I have to admit that I sort of wonder if it wasn't a cougar or some really big cat. Sometimes tigers look a little dogish, and a lyger wouldn't look anything like a lion or a tiger (they are pretty scruffy looking).

OR maybe it was a demon and the veils are thinner than we thought...

(that would explain the purification)

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