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Killing the Beast of Gevaudan

By Yona Williams    4/30/09

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For a couple of months, Jean-Charles-Marc-Antoine Vaumesle d'Enneval and his son spent their time hunting the wolves, thinking that they were the cause of the local problem. However, with each killing, the attacks still continued. Because of this, the men were replaced by François Antoine (the king's harquebus bearer and Lieutenant of the Hunt) in June of 1765. On June 22nd, Antoine arrived in le Malzieu.

About three months later, Antoine killed a large, gray wolf that measured 31 inches high and 5.6 feet long. It also weighed 130 pounds. Nicknamed the 'Le Loup de Chazes,' locals agreed that it was quite sizeable for a wolf. He swore that the wolf was the beast that had been terrorizing the people. Stuffed and sent to Versailles, the wolf became a prized trophy for Antoine, who was welcomed as a hero. Alongside a collection of awards and titles, he was given a great deal of monetary compensation for his deed.

Yet, another beast appeared in la Besseyre Saint Mary, severely injuring two children. This was on December 2nd, 1765, and more reported deaths attributed to the beast followed.

On June 19th, 1767, a creature was killed by a local hunter named Jean Chastel. No more attacks followed, which gave him the honors of actually taking the life of the creature deemed the reason behind the attacks. Novelists would later sensationalist the account to include the concept of using a silver bullet that he made himself to kill the beast. When the stomach of the animal was opened, human remains were found.

Identity of the Beasts

Many explanations were used to answer for the true identity of the Beast of Gevaudan. Some people believed that regular wolves got out of control, while a small population believed that the beast was a crossbreed of domesticated dogs and wild wolves.  Others believed in a werewolf-like creature. The notion that the beast was God's way of punishment was another theory.

Similar Incidents

If you thought this Beast of Gevaudan incident was the only attack of its kind, you should know that other events took place throughout Europe. In Benais, similar killings took place in 1693. More than 100 victims were killed by the same kind of creatures as the Beast of Gevaudan. Nearly all of the victims were women and children. At Sarlet, another beast was seen around the same time as the killings in Gevaudan – in August. In Vivarais, attacks were reported from 1809 to 1813. L'Indre was the site of attacks that occurred between 1875 and 1879. Reports of attacks involving creatures with wolf-like qualities continued all the way up to 1954.

Movie Connection – Brotherhood of the Wolf

A movie directed by Christophe Gans called "Brotherhood of the Wolf" was released in 2001. It used the accounts of Gevaudan to formulate a film based on the killings of the beast and the people determined to put an end to the regional fear of the creature(s).

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