In many parts of the world, local lore is filled with tales of mysterious beasts. Of course, the notorious Sasquatch is a renowned legend. No one can positively prove the existence of “Big Foot”, although many assure us the “larger-than-life legend” truly does exist.
However, France has one mysterious beast that’s existence is substantiated by the fear and death it caused. In the middle of the 18th century, a strange dog-like carnivore stalked victims. The rage of terror lasted for roughly three years.
Like many wild beast tales, some of them are probably exaggerated. Nevertheless, most reports insist that there were hundreds of attacks and possibly as many as 500 deaths. Many of the victims were partially eaten. Descriptions of this beast varied widely as well.
Stories tell of an animal about the size of a calf or small cow. However, some proclaimed it to be as big as a horse. The destructive way in which it tore the flesh of its victims established that the beast had razor-sharp teeth.
It was said to have a tail much longer than that of a wolf. The creature was described as being of a tawny or russet color. The back of the beast had black streaks, but a distinguishing, heart-shaped white mark was on its underbelly.
It was known as “The Beast of Gévaudan”. The first attack was recorded during the early summer of 1764. Marie-Jeanne Valet was apparently spared death when bulls within the herd of cows she was tending drove the beast off.
There’s also the legend that she stabbed the beast through the chest. But soon after, a 14-year-old girl was not as fortunate. Jeanne Boulet was attacked near the village of Les Hubacs. She died from wounds to her throat. More attacks followed.
The community was terrified. Oddly, the beast seemed to only target the heads or necks of its victims. The public hysteria fostered widespread myths that the beast had supernatural powers. As these stories spread, the beast was slowly transformed into something of a local legend.
Many still contend it was an unusually large wolf. However, the beast was reportedly resistant to bullets. No one ever verified or explained that report. Others believed it was a lion. But there's another possibility when combining the supernatural with the inability to be killed by a bullet.
It was reported that one of King Louis XV’s men supposedly killed an extremely large wolf. Most thought this was the beast responsible for the attacks. But after a short period of respite, the attacks resumed. Marie-Jeanne Valet is said to have wounded the beast with a long spear.
A statue of her stabbing the beast in the chest exists today. But no one ever actually witnessed the beast dying. As unbelievable as the notion may be, there is an eerie theory that might explain the beast that terrorized the Gévaudan. Bullets seem to have no effect.
The beast attacks the throat. Likewise, it seems to vanish into the night. The Beast of Gévaudan may not have family ties in London. But it could be a close relative. For those who don’t believe in werewolves, this story might give them pause to reconsider.