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#1 2004-11-22 20:20:06

The Busboy
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Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

Hi All,
I had been researching a very famous French werewolf and have been working on the article below for awhile now.  I was planning to send it in to the site for a future full moon, but as some of you know my references contradict each other, so I didn't want to send it in as I like things being 100% accurate (this story is impossible to get 100% accurate without going to France and translating church records and writings).  So, I decided I would post what I have here in the forums for a few months, and let people read it.  Maybe people can comment on it and/or add to it.  Seeing how this goes, I may even open up future forums for other famous werewolf legends and lores after I get other significant chunks of research done (like I did with this one).  Well, here's a good starting point anyway for this one, please only post additional facts of what you read to be true for this werewolf.  This article will seem quick and to the point as I tried to leave all of the contradictions out of it.   

Title: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

Country/area of origin: Southern France, a 75 mile mountain range along the Auvergne plateau

Name/type of werewolf: Loup-garou, La Bete de Le Gevaudan

Date of occurences: June 30, 1764 through June 19, 1767

Description of werewolf: Black hairy beast that walked on all fours or upright on two legs like a human in an animal skin, glassy eyes

Witnesses: Pierre Chateauneuf (a farmer who saw it on Jauary 15, 1765 and shot at it), Jean-Pierre Pourcher (a farmer), Andre Portefaix (a farmer who stabbed at it with a pitchfork along with some local villagers who beat it with clubs and stoned it before it ran off), Jean Chastel (the man who killed it on June 19, 1767 in Sogne d'Auvers) 

Details of how it was killed: Killed by Jean Chastel near Le Serge d'Auvert with a double barreled musket loaded with bullets made from a silver chalice that was blessed by a priest.  First shot hit the beast in the chest, the second shot to the beast's heart killed it.

Interesting story details: The beast attacked a boy named Jean Panafieux, he cried for help and the other children he was playing with ran to the village of Chamaleilles for help.  A farmer named Andre Portefaix attacked the beast with a pitchfork while other villagers clubed and stoned the beast and drove it away.  Andre went to King Louis XV (King Louis the 15th) himself with a petition from the villagers, and the King sent soldiers to search the mountains.  After the soldiers left, the beast went on a killing spree during the years of 1765 through 1767, housewives and children were the beast's primary victims.  Abbe Pourcher of St. Martin de Bourchauz parish recorded statements from the people who encountered the beast and survived it's attack as well as people who were in the group of several hundred men that were organized by the Marquis d'Apcher to hunt the beast.  Abbe Paucher's records and the double barreled musket are available for tourists to view.  Cemetary and church records show that over a hundred people were killed by the beast.

Note: You can research this werewolf yourself on-line, as there is a temporary French museum with a website as well as other French websites that have some information on this very famous werewolf.  I recommend you search the French websites using translation software that's built into some search engines, as this is a very facinating and true werewolf story.  I have read many books and websites regarding this werewolf and I do see descrepencies, but at least you can get a basic jist of what the story is here.

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#2 2004-11-23 00:57:05

WolfVanZandt
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From: Broomfield, Colorado
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Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

Have you seen the excellant French film The Britherhood of the Wolf. It's one of the best I've seen and it deals with the Beast. There is also material in both Montague Summers' The Werewolf and Adam Douglas' The Beast Within. The first has a strong anti-Were bias but you can't fault his scholarship. The latter is one of the best nonWere authored nonfictions on Wereism.

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#3 2004-11-23 09:40:13

The Busboy
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Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

Hi WVZ, yes, I own the movie "Brotherhood of the Wolf" On DVD.  I have Montague Summers book "The Werewolf in Lore and Legend" (not the one called "Werewolf," do you know if there is a difference on those? or are they the same book?).  Yes, I do have a book called "The Beast Within/A History of the Werewolf" by Adam Douglas.

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#4 2004-11-24 01:28:28

WolfVanZandt
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Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

Hmmmm....I don't know. I do know of a couple of books he wrote on witchcraft and a couple on Vampires but The Werewolf is the only one I know about Werewolves by him. Perhaps yours is a different edition or maybe and excerpt? Or he might have written on after The Werewolf.

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#5 2004-11-24 09:19:04

The Busboy
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Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

WVZ, hmmm, I don't know, I'ld hate to buy it if it is the same book (or a newer edition).  What does the cover look like, and how many chapters is it, so Ican figure out if they are the same or not.  Is yours in hardcover or paperback?  Yes, I know Summers wrote other books (regarding vampires and witches), very interesting he did all that, a very interesting man.

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#6 2004-11-29 00:35:45

WolfVanZandt
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From: Broomfield, Colorado
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Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

Hardcover. The chapters are: The Werewolf: Lycanthrope, The Werewolf: His Science and Practice, The Werewolf in Greece and Italy, Spain and Portugal, The Werewolf in England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland, The Werewolf in France, The Werewolf in theNorth, in Russia and Germany, A Note on the Wrewolf in Literature, Bibliography, Witch Ointments by Dr. H. J. Norman, and Index.

Despite the extremely Therianthrophobic nature of the book, it's still one of the main resource texts used by modern Therianthropes. There just aren't very many good "scholarly" texts out there on the subject.

There is, by the way, an excellant sociological monograph (out of circulation but available in many research libraries and , therefore, through Inter-Library Loan) by Harry A. Senn (real name, honest) called Werewolves and Vampires in Romania. It's an honest to goodness ethnographic study of Werewolf and Vampire beliefs in Eastern Europe.

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#7 2004-11-29 10:05:48

The Busboy
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Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

WVZ, I was reading the front of my Montague Summers book yesterday, and I think mine is just a more recent version of the same book you have.  I don't have it in front of me, but the chapters you mentioned sound like it's the same.  I looked on amazon.com for the H. Senn book you mentioned, it is out of print and currently valued at $50.50 (so if you have a copy, hold onto it).  I put it on my amazon.com wishlist if it ever resurfaces any used copies at some point.

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#8 2004-11-29 20:48:15

WolfVanZandt
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Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

Heh, that's why I use Inter-Library Loan to refer to it.

The copy at Auburn though looks like a Medieval document, though, it's so old and worn....I guess it won't last forever......sad....

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#9 2004-11-30 11:51:31

The Busboy
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Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

WVZ, yeah, I put it on my amazon.com wishlist in case it ever shows up, sounds very interesting.

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#10 2007-11-23 15:59:13

metalbeast
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Registered: 2007-11-15
Posts: 152

Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

They Made A Movie About This , BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF , The Movie Is Okay , But It Has Nothing To Do With Werewolves , It Is A Conspiracy/Thriller Movie , The Beast Turns Out To Be A Lion In Armor

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#11 2007-11-23 17:50:07

The Busboy
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Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

I saw that movie, and yes, the movie is based on the legend, but I don't think it is accurate at all according to all the research I did on the true legend and lore of the famous French beast.

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#12 2007-12-28 14:10:12

Ryptide
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Registered: 2007-12-27
Posts: 195

Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

Actually the beast was actually the last african bear. But its fun to see how they got inspired from the werewolf legend of the beast of Gevaudan.


To be enlightened is to see that which is beyond most men and see the truth through unclouded eyes. Watch the world from the outside and find where you belong... That is my creed. http://www.animefever.org/ref/ref.php?u … efever.org

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#13 2007-12-28 16:20:42

The Busboy
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Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

Ryptide wrote:

Actually the beast was actually the last african bear. But its fun to see how they got inspired from the werewolf legend of the beast of Gevaudan.

Where is that documented?  Any weblinks to resources?

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#14 2007-12-29 01:36:25

Ryptide
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Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

Actually that was said in the movie itself. at the end.

dont want to sound ***holeish. But it said that in the movie in the ending about the true identity of the beast. it was an african bear that only did bad things for affection. it was the LAST african bear. actually i think it might have been more of the atlas bear. someone must have done a typo on wiki. but in the movie it was a bear indeed. africa's only native bear species.


To be enlightened is to see that which is beyond most men and see the truth through unclouded eyes. Watch the world from the outside and find where you belong... That is my creed. http://www.animefever.org/ref/ref.php?u … efever.org

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#15 2007-12-29 13:18:32

The Busboy
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Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

What movie?  Are you talking about "Le pacte des loups" (aka "Brotherhood of the Wolf")?  If so, that's not a true story, it's just a story based on the legend.  You can verify that at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0237534/ Everything that exists in text on the real beast is documented in church records in France from everything I've studied on the subject.

Also, here's a museum website for people to check out (if you speak a little French, it helps): http://site.voila.fr/macbet

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#16 2007-12-30 14:53:48

Ryptide
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Posts: 195

Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

I know it was just in the movie that it stated that it was the last african bear.

But as for the actual legend would it have been a lion or just someone who was killing women and children making it a coverup...

I find it hard to believe in that particular legend though.

the europeans in that time were very suspiscious of everything and were highly influenced by myths and hearsay. I dont think thatthe beast of Gevaudan was an animal just that they made it so to coverup one persons misdeed with a myth. still its a pretty cool legend though.


To be enlightened is to see that which is beyond most men and see the truth through unclouded eyes. Watch the world from the outside and find where you belong... That is my creed. http://www.animefever.org/ref/ref.php?u … efever.org

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#17 2007-12-30 16:21:53

The Busboy
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Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

Yeah, it is a very cool legend, one of my favorites.  I spent a lot of time trying to research the legend and one of the languages I speak is French, so it made it even more fun for me.  Thank you for your posts.

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#18 2008-03-01 23:38:08

bloodlust
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Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

this is one of my favorite legends.


"Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for a friend."
http://s1.bitefight.org/c.php?uid=152377

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#19 2008-03-02 13:58:58

The Busboy
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Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

bloodlust wrote:

this is one of my favorite legends.

Me too!

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#20 2008-05-16 08:17:51

ManBeastOfTheNorthEast
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From: NYC
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Posts: 136

Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

Ooooh La bete, La bete,

Where to start? This creature has peaked my interest on many occasions. Was it man, Was it beast? O was it both?

Some say and African bear, Some say a hyena, Some say some form of mountain cat... The cat idea is interesting because it was known to lap up it's victims blood after a kill... But know. It can't be a cat by it's physical description, Nor can it be a bear or hyena because these species lack prominent tails. Could it have been a prehistoric throwback previously thought extinct?

Or was it man? Maybe a wild mountain man/or woman from a race of people driven away for thoughts of witchcraft or heresy ages before? Could man evolve into a more beastlike being from living in the mountains and breeding for centuries upon centuries upon centuries?

Or was it in fact a werewolf... Sightings have been seen of such creatures, and although unlikely it is possible just not probable That humans can change forms into a beast.. Let us not forget the power of this electro magnetic object known as the human brain that we all posses.

Or was it a psychotic nobleman?

Any other thoughts on said subject would be greatly intriguing in fact I was gonna post such the subject myself before I found this one.


http://world7.monstersgame.co.uk/?ac=vi … =113123229
^4 and a dewclaw, Baby!
Aaawhroooooo,
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#21 2008-10-19 23:05:55

WolfVanZandt
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From: Broomfield, Colorado
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Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

I just got The Brotherhood of the Wolf - director's cut 2 disk edition at WalMart for $13. It was pretty good and had a naturalist explaining his take on the BoG legend.

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#22 2008-10-20 16:58:17

Poncho
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Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

I really liked the film, brotherhood of the wolf. even though markus dacostas (Crying Freeman himself) was a ninja native american...........actually that was cool too.

the guy with the freaky hand, (Images of scary movie 2: "Grab my good hand"), crazy armoured spiked up Lion tearing up the place.

all good stuff.


"Some thoughts are less when spoken and some spoken words are less than the thought used behind it." Poncho 2009

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#23 2010-01-06 14:27:37

The Busboy
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Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

From a forum topic that was deleted (since this one already existed):

Canis Sapiens wrote:

the beast of gevaudan is perhaps one of the most famous werewolf stories of all time. it happened in pre revolutionary France in the Provence of gevaudan. the creature is blamed for "113 deaths and 49 injuries; 98 of the victims killed were partly eaten. Author Derek Brockis claims 25 women, 68 children, and 6 men were killed, with over 30 others injured." (Wikipedia) I like this story please comment. it can actually be found in many books on french history.

and one of the most recognizable engravings of werewolves came from this incident. a hope many of you have seen this photo (history channel?)

http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/werewolf-2a.jpg

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#24 2011-01-05 22:59:47

lupinealchemist
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Registered: 2010-12-30
Posts: 264

Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

Didn't Monster Quest conclude that is was a trained hyena possibly owned by Jean Chastel himself who was paid by the Catholic Church to encourage faith among the public when he slays his own pet with the blessed silver bullets? Silver is not as soft as lead so it couldn't spin through the rifling barrel causing it to be extremely inaccurate. You would have to shoot at a target that's standing still at close range if you hope to hit it.

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#25 2011-02-01 08:31:59

Moonlit Hunter
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Registered: 2010-04-26
Posts: 127

Re: Famous French Werewolf: The Beast of Le Gevaudan

lupinealchemist wrote:

Didn't Monster Quest conclude that is was a trained hyena possibly owned by Jean Chastel himself who was paid by the Catholic Church to encourage faith among the public when he slays his own pet with the blessed silver bullets? Silver is not as soft as lead so it couldn't spin through the rifling barrel causing it to be extremely inaccurate. You would have to shoot at a target that's standing still at close range if you hope to hit it.

What Monster Quest concludes has no more or less credibility than what others who have studied the legend conclude. It is their opinion of the evidence, but by no means is it conclusive. And anyways, I wouldn't accept anything that a TV show made for entertainment concludes as the end of a matter.

As to silver bullets - yes, they are harder than lead and somewhat less accurate. But they do still fire. They are not as wildly inaccurate as Monster Quest portrayed them to be, and it isn't out of the realm of possibility to think that someone could hit something from a relatively safe distance using one. So Chastel would not have HAD to have been super close to the Beast to hit him. Conversely, even if he was very close to the target when he hit it... that does not automatically imply that the creature was used to him or allowed him to get close. He could have been close because he was about to be attacked and managed to fire before he was mauled. So... there really is no evidence for or against the idea that the Beast was Chastel's own pet. It could have been or it could not have been - either is nothing more or less than speculation.

I have no idea where they came up with the Catholic Church connection, but I have never seen anything to even remotely suggest that. I think they probably just pulled that out of their asses because conspiracy, especially religious conspiracy, makes everything sound juicier and more sensational. But if on the very remote chance anyone acting on behalf of the Church thought this plan up to promote peity, they did a damn poor job of it. Some of the victims were attacked on their way to church, which is exactly the opposite of what should have happened if they are trying to get people to go to church more! Very bad press.

----

As for theories about what the Beast actually was...

Just because these people lived during the Middle Ages in an area that was populated by peasants who do not receive the level of education that we typically get now does not mean they were stupid. And they have an advantage over all of us that we can never have - they were actually there. We may not take every eyewitness account at face value, but they should not be twisted and interpreted to try to garner meaning from them that the people giving the accounts did not mean.

Keep in mind - this creature was seen by a lot of different people. We aren't going on just one or two dubious accounts. Some of the descriptions contradict, but enough coincide quite accurately.

There is no way I will ever believe that the Beast was any kind of bear, from Africa or any other place. If it looked like a bear, they would have described it as being a type of bear. Bears have a distinctive shape, even extinct bears. These people would have known what a bear looked like, because they would have seen bears. So if the Beast had been a bear, people would have been saying that it was a bear - even if it was a misshapen, bigger than normal, or otherwise unique bear.

Same goes for lions. They probably had never seen a lion before, but they certainly would have seen plenty of cats. A feline form is shaped differently from a canine form, and a lion would have been different enough that it wouldn't have been described as a werewolf. Plus, where are the descriptions of the animal having a mane?

Hyena? Well, that looks more like a wolf than a bear or lion would, but it is still a rather different animal. It wouldn't have had a European counterpart to compare it against, sure, but what about descriptions of the tail? Hyenas have pretty short tails. And wouldn't there have been some mention of how the back slopes all weird?

What about an African Wild Dog? That seems more likely, since it is actually a canid. But they have huge, rounded ears that are not very wolf like.

I think it is safest to assume that, since the people talking about the beast described it as a wolf and believed it to be a werewolf, it was probably canine.

----

And Busboy's link to that picture - Yeah, I have seen that picture around a lot. I love it, but I can't ever look at it and think of the Beast. The wolf in it looks happy and playful, not hungry or vicious. He looks like he is  grabbing a girl around the waist and going, "MINE MINE MINE! I LUUUURVE HER!" His tail is even wagging! And his tongue is lolling out all cute-like.

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