The 'Beast of Gévaudan' is one of those great historical riddles about which the truth has never been conclusively established. From June 1764 until June 1767 the 'Beast' claimed at least a hundred lives, terrorised a good part of the province of Gévaudan (which comprised what is now the département of Lozère plus a small part of Haute-Loire) and had a direct impact on the king himself, who sent his best huntsmen and his Dragoons in an attempt to put an end to its depredations.
Was the 'Beast' a wild animal? Was it a wolf - or several wolves, as some people would have us believe? Or was it in fact a sinister partnership between man and animal, which would go some way towards explaining some aspects of its behaviour which are curious, to say the least?
We have made every effort in these pages to give a clear-sighted account of a mystery more convoluted even than all the works devoted to it hitherto, and a long way from the oversimplified and Manicheistic interpretation which has too often prevailed elsewhere. To do this we have drawn on the research of historians, obviously, but also on the work of specialists in animal behaviour.
Now it is up to individuals to draw such conclusions as they may from these disparate elements.
Year of publication of the presented edition : 1987