We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Beast of Gévaudan.
The Beast of Gévaudan is the name given to a creature or creatures that terrorized the countryside in the former French province of Gévaudan in south-central France between 1764 and 1767. Overall, approximately 211 people were attacked and 113 killed.
The Beast was said to look like a wolf with a reddish coat, but much larger, the size of a calf. It tended to attack people alone in the forests tending livestock, and it usually targeted its victims’ heads or necks. Many of those killed were partially eaten.
Finally, the killings came to the attention of King Louis XV, who sent professional wolf hunters to Gévaudan to kill the Beast. The first pair he sent failed to stop the Beast after several months of hunting and were replaced. The second pair killed an unusually large wolf in September 1765 believed to be the Beast. They received a large reward, but in December of that year, there were more attacks.
Not until 1767 did the attacks stop, when a local hunter killed a large wolf, supposedly with a blessed silver bullet.
No one knows for sure why the attacks occurred. There was speculation at the time that the Beast was in fact a werewolf. Others have put forth the theory that it was actually a pack of wolves, and still others believe it may have been a wolf-dog hybrid.