Beast of Gévaudan

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Beast of Gévaudan

Post  Admin on 10/26/2008, 11:53 pm

Beast of Gévaudan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Beast of Gévaudan (French: La bête du Gévaudan) was a creature that terrorised the general area of the former province of Gévaudan, in today's Lozère département, in the Margueride Mountains in south-central France, in the general timeframe of 1764 to 1767.
Beast of Gévaudan

The first attack that provided a description of the creature took place in June of 1764. A girl from Langogne was working a farm in the Forêt de Mercoire when she saw a large, wolflike animal charge from the trees in a straight line toward her. The farm's dogs retreated as the beast drew closer, until the bulls from the farm's herd of cattle menaced the creature enough to drive it back into the forest.
For the next three years attacks by the same beast occurred. It was described as being a wolflike creature the size of a cow with a wide chest, a long sinuous tail with a lion-like tuft of fur on the end, and a greyhoundlike head with large, protruding fangs. It was also noted making huge leaps approaching thirty feet.
The attacks prompted Antoine de Beauterne, chief huntsman of King Louis XV, to visit the area, where he spent the next three years hunting wolves, believing them to be the real beast. The wolf killings lasted as long as the creature's attacks, over the general span of three years, and had no effect on reports of the beast or its killing.
Of note is the fact that the creature had a strange method of killing, often ignoring the usual areas targeted by predators (legs and throat to incapacitate and kill, respectively) and going for the head, crushing it before feeding. It also seemed to have a taste for humans, as even when cattle and other farm animals were more easily attainable it often passed them completely to attack the person tending them. There were differing reports on the beast itself, which was sometimes reportedly seen with a man and was several times reported to be with another beast, and with young.
Various explanations were offered at the time of the attacks. They ranged from exaggerated accounts of wolf attacks, to a loup-garou (werewolf), all the way to the beast being a punishment from God, to being an unholy creature summoned by a sorcerer. Current opinions offer up the interesting theory that the attacks were actually a serial killer, or group of serial killers, using wolf attacks to cover their own murders. Also sometimes mentioned are the theories that the beast may have been a dire wolf, an extinct relative to wolves and hyenas, as well as the theory that the animal may have simply been an escaped captive exotic animal such as a hyena or lion. Yet another theory is that the creature was a specially bred wolf/dog hybrid used for hunting, such as those bred and used by the Spanish in the l6th century.
Despite the presence of Antoine de Beauterne, the killing of the creature that marked the end of the attacks is credited to a hermit, Jean Chastel, at the Sogne d'Aubert.
The legend surrounding the attacks spawned a movie starring Mark Dacascos, Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001), which, while based on the records of the creature, also took several creative liberties in order to make the story more entertaining. Despite generating positive reviews and record business (the movie is credited with being the highest-grossing French film), it is not an accurate account of the occurrences in Gévaudan.
A more accurate version of the historic events was shown in the TV-film La bête du Gévaudan, France 2003, first aired by the station ARTE in 2005, directed by Patrick Volson with Sagamore Stévenin (Pierre Rampal), Léa Bosco (Françounette), Jean-François Stévenin (Jean Chastel), Guillaume Gallienne (Abbé Pourcher), Vincent Winterhalter (Comte de Morangie) and Louise Szpindel (Judith).


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