Scary stories, legends, and creatures of France

I will talk to you here about French legends and stories. Today we will talk about the legend of the beast of Gévaudan, which is closer to the tragic historical fact. Good luck, and never forget to look under the bed before going to sleep…

We are in 1764, in the French region of Gévaudan (now Lozère), the reign of King Louis XV is currently in court, France is close to a revolution, the people are poor.

It is in this region that in May a woman is attacked by a beast that she describes as monstrous. It’s not a wolf or a dog, but it looks like it. A red coat, a gigantic jaw, bear legs, dragon teeth, eyes deeper than the depths of the hell. The young woman managed to escape from the beast’s claws, helped by her herd of sheep. She returns to the village frightened, traumatized, no one believes her.

A month later, on June 30, 1764, the villagers found the body of Jeanne boulet, a young peasant girl, shredded and scratched from all sides. The reputation of “the beast” began.

In a few months, the beast kills about thirty people, usually women and children. Stationed in the region that year, the Clermont-Prince Light Troop Regiment gave Captain Duhamel the dragons (elite soldiers) needed to track the beast. From September 15, Duhamel and his troops began hunting and armed the peasants who were ready to help them.

On October 7, two hunters managed to reach the beast, she was wounded, but when they thought she was dead, she got up and fled, she left no blood on the ground, and these prints were as if erased, impossible to track her. In the same month, the attacks are even more violent, the beast goes as far as killing 5 people in the same day, in broad daylight, in the middle of a village.

Winter is approaching and the people are afraid, the beast now has a reputation for being invincible. In all the villages of the region, the dragons put up posters, they are drawings of the beast, each peasant, each woman, each child, takes a pitchfork and prepares to defend himself.

Winter is difficult, dragons are hosted by the inhabitants, they drink, eat and abuse peasants, the region becomes dark, close to anarchy.

On December 31, 1764, the Bishop of Mende, Bishop Gabriel-Florent de Choiseul-Beaupré, also Earl of Gévaudan, made a call for prayers and penance. This call has been known in history as the “mandement of the Bishop of Mende”. All the priests of the diocese are ordered to say it to their followers. In this text, the bishop describes the Beast as a plague sent by God to punish men for their sins. He refers to Saint Augustine as “the righteousness of God”, as well as the Bible and the threats made by God through the mouth of Moses: “I will arm against them the teeth of the fierce beasts”. At the end of this mandate, it is ordered that forty hours of prayers and songs be respected, for three consecutive Sundays.

The people are now afraid of a divine and satanic creature.

At the beginning of January 1765, Duhamel was at the end of his forces, he organized a final hunt and swore in front of God that if he failed he would leave the army. This as well as the largest hunt of all times for a single animal is organized, in one day Duhamel mobilizes 30,000 men and surrounds the entire Tenasere forest, the place where the most victims are reported.

That day, men saw the beast again, but no one was able to touch it, too fast, too violent, the beast escaped, Duhamel resigned, we never heard of him again.

The entire Europe is aware of the story, newspapers report it in every village, every country, the beast of Gévaudan is immortal, the French people deserve it.

The adviser of King Louis XV sent a Norman hunter, Mr. Denneval, to hunt the beast. He is reputed to be the best wolf hunter in the kingdom, since he killed more than 1,200 wolves. Denneval doesn’t want to make the same mistake as Duhamel. He is convinced the animal is a wolf, so he has all the wolves in the region killed, as soon as we meet one, we kill it, hoping  the beast will be one of them. It’s not working.

Denneval leads the investigation, he discovers that many of the victims have been decapitated, a beast cannot cut a head so cleanly, so he supposes that a man is helping the beast. It is in the Tenasere forest that he looks for the most. In this forest he meets a forestkeeper, Jean Chastel.

Deneval has a lot of suspicions about this man, he makes him arrested for not letting him cross a bridge. During Chastel’s five months in prison, the murders continued, but no victims were decapitated.

Even so, it’s too late for Denneval, he’s wasting too much time. It was on June 20 that the King sent François Antoine, lieutenant of his hunts, who was renowned as the best rifle in the kingdom. He cannot fail in his mission. Antoine and his men then joined Denneval on various hunts. However, they are unable to agree on how hunting should be conducted. Cohabitation appeared impossible, so Denneval left the country on July 18 on the order of the king. He is humiliated.

One morning, Marie jeanne, a young woman of 20 years old, was surprised by the beast, imagining herself dying, she stretched her arms to the animal, the one jumped and impaled himself on Marie jeanne’s stick. The beast is seriously wounded, it is escaping. The Gévaudan virgin is celebrated all over the kingdom, the people regain their confidence.

After 3 months of hunting, F. Antoine, killed in September 1765, a large wolf whose body was stuffed and sent to the court.

We now know that F. Antoine orchestrated this so-called hunt. Fearing disgrace, he absolutely needed a beast to expose.

In addition, the exhibition of this stuffed beast is designed to restore the image of the king, who has become the laughing stock of the entire European continent.

On March 1, 1766, the beast emerged from the dead and attacked a little girl in front of her parents’ eyes in the middle of the village. As the beast was officially dead, the king did not believe in these stories and did not provide any help, so the farmers had to manage on their own.

The girl was a friend of Chastel’s. He, who was previously unbeliever, turned to God.

He dissolved a statuette of the Virgin Mary to make 5 balls.

On June 19, 1767, Jean chastel knelt in a field, and prayed. The beast approached and sat in front of him. The villagers, in front of the scene, were paralyzed. The animal didn’t move, he watched chastel read the Bible. Chastel closed the book, took his gun, and calmly killed the monster.

In total, there were more than 150 victims….

J. Chastel domesticated an animal resulting from a mating between a wolf and a dog. He trained this animal to attack man.It is very possible that his crimes began long before the beginning of this story.The murder of the girl, with who he was friends, was not planned. Indeed, shortly after, he fell into mysticism.He, who had not shown himself to be religious person, began to frequent the church in an intense way.He made many visits to the confessional and even blessed the bullets he used to kill the beast.

Many people today think that Chastel was a “wolf leader” but to know what it is about, I let you read my next articles.

 

We’ll see you soon for more legends and horrors.

Thank you for reading.

 

Written by: Germain PICOT