Our cultural heritage contains stories which arouse such passions in us that one no longer knows anymore whether they are legend or true history. Such is the case in France of the story of the Beast of Gévaudan. Why does it have this reputation? Is it based on reality? And if so, which parts? This little book was born to answer those questions, both by presenting what we know and by showcasing illustrations. While it relays many things about this drama, which battered Auvergne and Gévaudan from 1764 to 1767, where it stands apart is in its recounting of those elements which preceded and then followed the main story. Posters, complaints and caricatures have created a myth whose echo reverberates again today with the return of the wolf to France. Going beyond speculation about the nature of the beast over the past 250 years, the author provides a researched guide, clear and contemporary, with a nice collection of supporting documentation, in which the affair unfolds like a good thriller while maintaining the suspense that people at the time experienced.
Year of publication of the presented edition : 2015 (72 pages)
The author :
Born in 1956, a former student of the École Normale Supérieure, Jean-Marc Moriceau is a professor of modern history at the University of Caen and president of the Association of the history of rural societies. He is the author of Farmers of Île-de-France, 15th – 18th Centuries (Fayard, 1994, reprinted 1998), A Guide to the Land and Peasants from the 17th to 18th Century (Rennes University Press, 2000), Shifting Lands: the French countryside from feudalism to globalization, 12th to 19th centuries (Fayard, 2002), A History and Geography of Animal Husbandry in France from the Middle Ages to the Revolution (Fayard, 2005), and A History of the Bad Wolf: 3,000 attacks on humans in France, 15th to 20th centuries (Fayard, 2007).
He is also directed the publication of Campaigns in Social and Political Evolution in Europe (Sedes, 2005). Founding editor since 1994 of the international journal, History and Rural Society, he manages the collection at the Library of Rural History at the Center of Social Science (Maison de la Recherche en Sciences Humaines), Caen University. Together with the geographer Philippe Madeline, he runs a seminar on rural Pôle at the center and manages the library collection on the topic.