The Beast of Gevaudan through 250 years of images
(Click on picture to enlarge it)
The king, Louis XV, initiated various measures to bring about the destruction of the beast, but without success.
Then, in 1765, one of the hunters he had sent to the region, Monsieur Antoine, shot and killed a massive wolf. Could this be the Beast? Apparently not, since the bloody attacks continued. In the end, it was a humble inn-keeper, Jean Chastel, who eventually finished the creature off, in June 1767.
Unfortunately, the corpse of the animal putrefied before it could be exhibited at Court, and ever since then, there have been nagging doubts. What exactly was the Beast, in reality ? A wolf ? A hyena ? A huge dog, trained by a sadist ? Or even a supernatural being of some kind ?
Historians, journalists, biologists, zoologists, criminologists - dozens have tried to discover the truth about the Beast. There are theories and explanations in abundance, some of them very far-fetched indeed. This book brings together the various hypotheses, enabling readers to draw their own conclusions.
But they will also find another, quite different story about the Beast, every bit as fascinating as the historical version, for no sooner had it been destroyed than it embarked on a new series of imaginary adventures, until the point was reached where, instead of a being a curse on the region, the Beast became its emblem and protector.
The course of this peculiar posthumous transformation is also traced by the author. Eric Mazel has built up a collection of over a thousand items, and in this book presents us with some of his most treasured pieces: engravings, old books, artefacts, handbills, illustrated articles from newspapers, official reports, and so on.
Here then, "La Bête du Gévaudan à travers 250 ans d'images", essential reading for anyone wishing to find out more about this curious episode of history, as well as satisfying those who have already been bitten by the bug - or should I say the Beast? - with its wealth of previously unseen material.
Edited by Gaussen Editions (diffusion De Borée)
Thanks to Malcolm Mc Donald for the translation