At the time of the Enlightenment, one of the most remote areas of France was caught up in a traumatic situation which lasted for three years and caused feelings to run high. The 'Beast' of Gévaudan attacked and killed dozens of people, mostly women and children, and dragged their bodies off into the forests to devour.
What was this monster, which the most skilful hunters in the kingdom were sent to track down? The mass of differing theories have done just as much to obscure the events as to cast light on them; high time, then , for a proper historian to re-examine the facts. Jean-Marc Moriceau, a recognised authority on rural life and on the relationship between wolves and humans, has taken up the challenge.
In the pages of his account, a forgotten land comes back to life: a society marked by harsh inequality, where strangers are treated with suspicion; a society in which people barely manage to eke out a living , and that only by dint of constant toil. As we read through the original archives, we get to know more about every one of the young individuals who were caught up, between the years of 1764 and 1765, in the greatest calamity in the entire history of the province.
Year of publication of the presented edition : 2008 (288 pages)
Editor : Larousse
The author :
A former student of the École Normale Supérieure, born in 1956, Jean-Marc Moriceau is a professor of modern history at the University of Caen and president of the Association for the History of Rural Societies. He is the author of Les Fermiers de l'Ile-de-France, XV-XVIIIth century (Fayard, 1994, reissue 1998), a Guide to land and peasants in the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries (Presses universitaire de Rennes, 2000); of Moving Lands: The French countryside from feudalism to globalization, 12th-19th century (Fayard, 2002); a History and Geography of French Livestock from the Middle Ages to the Revolution (Fayard, 2005); and History of the bad wolf: 3000 attacks on man in France, 15th - 20th century (Fayard, 2007). He also directed the publication of Campaigns in Social and Political Developments in Europe (Sedes, 2005). Founding director since 1994 of the international journal Histoire et Sociétés Rurales, he directs the Library of Rural History collection at the Center for Research in Human Sciences at the University of Caen. With the geographer Philippe Madeline, he runs the Pôle rural seminar of this same Research Center and directs the “Bibliothèque du Pôle rural” collection.