« Stuff You Missed in History Class

SYMHC Classics: Beast of Gevaudan

2019-10-05 | 🔗

This 2014 episode covers attacks on women and children of Gevaudan in the 1760s, which sparked a huge push to hunt and kill the mystery beast behind them. While efforts to track the animal struggled, France was gripped in terror.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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with eighty will you're about to here is marking. Will you won't see, then they see hotels, guest room is marketing. Will you will seize room designed to maximize space and destitute of clutter? That's actually meant to be used and that's precisely how it should be: a sea hotels, the perfectly precise hotel, Happy Saturday, everybody. It is our favorite month of the show in the best month of the year, in my opinion, an awfully you're going back to a previous October episode, the beast of each other down which came out on a toolbar twenty. Second, twenty. Fourteen, though, in the course of this episode, we make a passing reference to a website about whether England was at war with France, and if you get to that point in your, what are they talking about several years ago? We basically joked about how England and France were at war with each other so frequently that there should just be one of those website three could put in a year, and it would tell you yes or no, where they at war
after we may that joke to different listeners made one of these websites. One of those websites is still active. We will put a link in the show notes so enjoy welcome to stuff you missed in history class production of I hurt radios, how stuff works and welcomes the Athens Tracy Bewildered, and I'm only fry. So recently I have outlined episode to invest in because I haven't oh list of Halloween episode, suggestions and really none of them were peeking. My interest at all that happens yeah. I had sort of analysis browsers about Halloween, then Helene suggested The beast of Javert on and this that. I made sure that there was a legitimate academic source in English that I had access to. I stopped looking for any other Halloween topic
because this one is frightening. Grizzly and is deeply fascinating, so that's your heads up, if you, if you mean for warning about frightening grisly things, as is frightening and grisly, hundreds of years Wolf attacks in Europe were really not all that rare today, the sort of ecologists motto as that Healthy wolves, don't attack humans, but the was absolutely untrue, Early modern Europe they're worth thousands of attacks by rabid, wolves and thousands more attacks by apparently The wolves there had even been multiple incidents and period in which the same wolf or a group of wolves killed, multiple people over a period of weeks or months. So wolves in general were considered to be a threat and any kind. of outdoor work, especially
if it was around animals like sheep or goats, that might attract wolves. considered to be inherently dangerous, but be attacks. It struck. There's evident region in the seventeen sixties really stand out, in particular almost Gluesome Lee the victims were women and children mostly attacked while they were tending animals. The men were generally left alone, even when they were doing the exact same work. The beasts, myth, of killing was also horrific in description after description people talked about it robbing arms who a victim in broad daylight, ripping out its throat, often the Kapital, the person entirely so people were scared of wolves, but they were terrified of this beast This is why we are going to talk about it today. Be Halloween,
so for some context. The evident region in the south of France was remote. partially settled this time. So most of its people made their livings as farmers and shepherds the terrain forested and mountainous. There were lots of rocky outcroppings, and all of this put it. Kind of made it an area that was sort of perfect for or perfectly dangerous for, Wolf attacks, the beast first recorded victim in the Jack Odin was a fourteen year old beam, Jan Belay, who killed, while watching over livestock at the end of June, one thousand seven hundred and sixty four and then on August eighth of fifteen year old girl was killed, followed by a sixty, you're old boy, a couple of weeks later in September things, took a doubly or turn with four attacks, claiming the lives of a thirty six year old woman and several more youths because the
of attacks were already so common and because some of these in particular, happened more than twenty miles apart from each other, it only after this particularly doubly period and timber that people realized something different was going on during this I'm France was divided into administrative regions, known as generality by however, the generality second in Command Etienne, the phone started trying to organise a com. The series of patrols to protect people and find this wolf working with a low landowner, he tried to keep eight or ten people on watch at all times, but he had a little bit where they were colluding People were already pretty scared to stray far from their homes to their own fields, so getting them to go patrol other people's fields was
not exactly the easiest cell. Laval wound up securing funds to actually pay people, and he started talking to the higher ups and the generally day about the possibility of bringing in professional soldiers dragon Captain John Baptists do a male stationed near by, and was also active in the hut here his men started scouring areas near where the attacks had happened, hoping to find the culprit. It was around October that in people's minds at least, the culprit shift from being an animal to being some sort of monster. The letters and even news reports went from describing a bet furrows. A general sort of generic description of a ferocious beasts to talking about the bets, the capital be or So the monster, people and more urban and affluent parts of France didn't really believe in werewolves anymore, by
That idea was still pretty entrenched in the more moral parts of the country, the beast decapitated, when a year old woman on October seventh- and it took a week for people to find her skull between October seventh and fifteenth six teenagers and a ten year old boy were attacked with most of them sustaining huge injuries to their heads and faces. Only four of these victims survived. This paper started, describing the beast is being deliberately blood, thirsty, apparently drinking the victims, blood from their necks. Before moving on to the flesh, Etienne fought and vice the women and children tending the flocks that they be escorted at all times by armed men and this fortunately opened the door to some victim, blaming the economy in this part of France was still really futile. Men and women and children all had work to do and all of the work was necessary for their survival. So
Man really did not have the option of dropping what they were doing to escort women and The women and children didn't have the option to just stay out of the fields until they had a man with them. There. So didn't have the option of just swapping jobs. Val of these jobs involved being outdoors for the most part and well didn't just sit around cowering, though it's important to note the hunting party, some patrols that had been established, cleared brush and they chase whenever they saw him animal that they thought might be the culprits They killed more than one wolf in all of this, but the attacks went on by the end of October. Pretty much. Every body image of a non region agreed that they were not dealing with a normal wolf eyewitnesses now it's really very dramatically, and what the beast look like. Some of them describe it as well. Talons, several describe it, is having its dark stripe that ran down its back. The way
unifying part of all those Christians was that it was much bigger than a nor Wolf, we'll theorize that it could be a range of animal suspects, including a wolf of course. Hyena was also mentioned: some kind of Wolf dog Hyena, Hybrid, even key was brought up as a possibility in this way. seems to have started by a report in a newspaper called Cuvier with quoted in american woman, who said her country was full of fearsome monkeys. The did exactly this kind of thing, which makes me go right. We like qualms, really american lady. So the export action for how Hyena or a monkey could have gotten into the south of France was that they had stowed away aboard a ship or maybe escaped from a menagerie. This thing: was actually a source of hope to people who thought that if this was some kind of tropical animal that it would just die when the winter came
It was probably also somewhat soothing to consider that it could be something escaped from a menagerie rather than an actual sort of unnatural monster, We know it would be more of an unknown less right, so in October, a small group of hunters on the search for the beast. a large wool from its den and they shot it repeatedly and this law dwarf was slowed by the bullets, but it could still. more quickly than the men that were chasing it, and so it got away and they never found the body and came to the conclusion that it had somehow survived their gunfire. contributed to the idea that there was something supernatural at work: It really shouldn't be surprising that if these attacks went on since they were just spectacularly glory and horrifying newspaper became increasingly sensational and their coverage of it. Here's an EC of an event in November, quote on the twenty third at five
clock in the evening. This cruel beast Ronald a woman in a village and after her, even the neck, all the way down to the shoulders and having sucked the blood from the body it carried away. The head. hunters. Inserted a grisly move began using the remains of the beasts. Victims as bait, they were hoping to draw the creature out again, not only did it not work, it also upset people, understandably, and of the fall to winter. The weather started to serious get in the way of effectively hunting. Before we talk about the next major shift in our This holly. Would you like to take a moment for a brief word from a sponsor. I would indeed
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ironic. He had it in his sites, but the other men not realising what was going on, came up behind him and startled it they and Fortunately lost sight of the beast: as the sun went down. Do. A bell was deeply distressed by this, not merely because he had missed their quarry at the likely expensive, more lives being lost. but he also have a little bit of an ego element in the in the mid. He didn't want to lose the glory of being the one that took the beast down. there. He was a soldier and head. You know gotten, claim on the field of battle before and now tat. He was not in a battle. He was very frustrated by the failure to get more acclaim. Unfortunately, this was the first of many of them else. Failures to capture his quarry have people started digging certain whether he knew what he was doing. He started, stripping, drawings and telling people really vivid accounts of this monster, the tragic
since everyone that it wasn't his bald. He was sort of building this mythology that the creature was too powerful into obviously supernatural to be caught quickly and as seventeen Sixty four drawing to a close, a bishop from the church put out an official circular. That said that the EAST was a scourge sent by God surges built that mythology up a little bit more. In January of seventeen sixty five do a male started, sending out his dragoons dressed as women to try to escort women and children about their duties in the fields. He was hoping though a wolf would mistake them for a woman and attack since it mostly attacked women and children. This didn't work. I like that the beast could clock. Drag, often January twelve, a twelve year old boy, known as port of Faye reported leech he's down the wolf and attacked it with a bayonet after it had attacked and dragged off a small child porn
They became famous for this act of extreme bravery or foolishness, depending on your point of view of other, were accounts of it that were heavily embellished and the different accounts of what actually happened very quite a bit from one to another Porto Faye, however, became a rallying cry. Do a male becoming kind of desperate to to catch the thing. and to maintain his his reputation organised a massive hunt to take place on February seven, seventeen sixty five. This was not the First, coordinated hunt that was going to take place for multiple parts of this area and for at the same time, but it was definitely the biggest about twins, thousand people gathered in about one hundred different parishes and inside out of there being heavy fog that day and about six inches of snow on the ground. Search parties spread from their respective communities, at the same time, to try to find the beast one party,
thought they did and as they please the animal that they believe to be the beast. It tried to escape down a river villagers in the town of monsieur we're supposed to patrolling the river banks, but one of that towns, most prominent citizens had said he would stay. If the weather was bad and enough, people followed his example that the beast easily slip through this whole in the defences ever and perhaps in an effort to save face a hunting four miles. You claimed that it had seen and shot the beast. So do ammo abandoned his original plan, which was to have a second massive hunt on the eleven. If the one on the seventh failed steady, arranged. The smaller hunt to focus just on the area around mouths, yet to take place on the Tenth As they were, hunting a teenage girl was killed while feeding her livestock do a male regrouped and prepared to keep hunting near where that attack it occurred on the eleventh Use
the girls body as bait. They did not feed. On the eleventh and they tried again on the twelve this time, fighting biting windy, weather. in spite of their multi day, it's halved and with so many hunters on the on the team. They found nothing his return from this HANS do a male again tried to explain his failure and retain his position with us for natural explanation. Accordingly, The beast was a witch or the devil. After all, twenty thousand men, which he in his telling rounded up to thirty thousand, had failed to get it. So it had to be magical of supernatural tat. He was really getting desperate to hold onto his position what he did not know was that his replacement says Bay, Golly, Wolf, hunter and chief had already been chosen and were on their way to the job done.
Jean Charles Mark and Twond of arms, then dont ever hull of Normandy took Jean Baptiste. Do a mouse place in the fight against beast of Sheridan, they arrive. In February, was Jean Charles. The sun shone Francois accompanying his father. The bonobo did not get along with the wolf hunters and Java. They made demands for help and for accommodations that wrangled people they reside obviously overconfident and underprepared, some of the other wolf. Jurists he'd been searching, the evidence for months decided that they were frauds. You know how bad badly written crime dramas. You have seen where the local police have been try and really hard to catch the killer, and then some really slick FBI guys come in and see Nobile over their investigation. It was like that year they were all swagger did not really have the skills Meanwhile, in March, the lunch
tourists. He'd been searching. The agenda for months decided that they were frauds. You know how and bad badly written crimes saying that it had eaten the entire french army and was found to have mortars cannons and at least one hundred small arms in its belly when it was flame. this really annoyed the people of France and the monarchy, because a lot of people have been killed in this evidence already, so to kind of make fun of the whole thing was kind of a slap in the face. We should these years into the with England at war with France websites yeah Think that they were. You know you were socially, they were having some issues. Even in light of the fact that France was basing facing internet no criticism for its failure to take care of this wolf problem and King Louis, the fifteenth himself was eager to have this beast
killed. The devil's did not do much in March or April. They just did not seem to be in a big hurry. They blame local people for all manner of ills and for their full failure to get the beast, meanwhile, There were fourteen deaths over those two months, one death, in particular of notes. On March, thirteen the beast attacked a group of children in the garden outside their home. and their mother. Jan of our lay, was with them and reported to be pregnant. She turned to see the beast attack her six year old and in a Google, that went on for several minutes of our lay climbed onto the beasts back in an effort to wrestle her child from its jaws wench, He fell off it jumped over a hedge and she gave chase or older children was inside the house- and he heard the commotion and came out with a lance and the family, sheep dog and
he chase the animal and they basically fought it until it tired out, abandoned its quarry and ran away six year old, unfortunately didn't survive. Although the rest of the family dead and Farley's story Bread as one of heroic tragedies, though she became kind of an emblem of the need to get this over with Yeah, I'm sure that was a little bit of an ego blow to all of these hunters that a pregnant woman and her children had kind of had better luck at least kind of running this animal down than they had with their fire power and hunting knowledge. In early May, the den of all started trying to combat the wolves by poisoning the bodies of their victims and leaving them out as bait. This did not work and once again upset people then in mid may there were the two week period with no wolf attacks
but then evolve took credit for it, and they said they must have actually killed a wolf that they'd shot and had been gotten away earlier in the month: Then, when another attack happened on May nineteen, they started trying to seek the protection of the king at Versailles. They were offered that their actions were going to catch up with them and that they themselves might come to harm. They were finally forced to leave town in their reputations, wherein shreds and before we turn to Oh little happier part of this story. It's take another brief moment A word from a sponsor phones grant ram trucks, motor trains back to back track of the year. We are not bragging about it, we're just being honest, landscapes changed. And we ve changed with it. Stronger
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HANS with dogs and men, using dogs in particular, to try to cover the regions more difficult terrain and like the den evolve, he was extremely polite, he gained the trust and the affection of the locals. He did not work in with a bunch of attitude and swagger. He really trying to work with, SAM any works through the summer of one thousand, seven hundred and sixty five, as the deaths continued to find the beast on September 20th, one caught sight of a wolf, so big that at first he thought it was a donkey for about fifty pace, the way he shot it with a long barreled must get, but he loaded with the lead ball, along with lots of other smaller pieces of shot the animal was hit, but it wasn't killed. It got to its feet and when, after an one who had to retreat rather than trying to reload his weapon you're right Reinhard, who was an officer of the hunt, delivered the actual killing shot?
took the wolf's body to a nearby chateau, and then they brought in people who had either witnessed or survived attacks to identify it. They all agreed that this was the wolf that attack them and even so, into an urge people not to drop their guard. Yet That's everyone in the debate on who looked at it agreed at the thing was enormous And as an twond and others told the story over and over at depositions, and when talking to the newspapers, this description just got bigger and bigger enter, and set about hunting for any offspring. The beast may have had and ordering an artisan to construct a frame for its skin so that it can be proven. Served and said to the king. It well being embalmed instead and by the time that happened. It had already started to decompose, let me the body arrived at Versailles on the first of October by the Court of Versailles was not merely as impressed with it, as the people of the job done had been
they had really suffered from some inflated expectations by people increasingly talking about how more and more monstrous thing was also because of what we just discussed with the embalming it smelled and Twond his task of seeking and destroying wolves from around the area where the beast had been killed on October seventeenth, and for me, than two months there were no more wolf attacks is actually a you know. It stretched into That was two months from when he finished killing, but it wound but there weren't any deaths for when he shot that wolf until December. Seven. Seventeen sixty five They two boys survived a wolf attack while they were guarding cattle and then an eleven year old girl was killed on December twenty first, unlike the first time around when it had taken so many deaths before people saw it as a pattern. Everyone immediately panicked. However, there was also this.
Kind of issue of saturation everyone also, while they were quicker to record is this danger they were. a kind of tired of talking about those beasts. So there, far fewer newspaper reports and other records detailing what happened between France Twond, killing a wolf on September, twentieth of seventeen sixty five and Russia still killing another one in August of seventeen sixty seven get so am I. two years later, the Wolf bitch Still killed was big, although not merely as big as the one that Antwerp had killed almost two years before, however, Shasta followed. What once they had done like followed his example. He rounded pull up to. I view this wolf and say that it was the wolf that had attacked them, You sent its body to Versailles. However, the time had arrived and beside it was extremely rotten. The king was extremely insulting to just Ellen his son for having just brought this rotten wolf carcass into his presence
the king, ordered them all away from forest and researchers started documenting the Shevardino Wolf floor almost immediately Eighteen abies amending Pierre Pinochet wrote an enormous history of the wolf and there are all kinds of theories about exactly what this animal was is and whether it was acting on its own or whether it had trains to somehow attack people. This Theory actually got a shot in the arm when people realise that John Castile had played a prank on a wolf hunting party two years before they had basin. We said: hey is this ground up here, safe to walk on and he was like if awesome and it was actually a bog, and so the wolf hunters sunk into it up to their chests while he laughed along a sideline There are people who were extremely suspicious of him now and kind of wonder if he had trained animals to attack other people and that that gap between
killing one wolf and and another attack happen, was because he was having to retrain and other animal back. It's some kind of conspiracy, theory ideas, not only sure We should call Ben and and see what they think we will probably never know for sure. If this be, It was actually a wolf or multiple wolves or perhaps even Something else that has been identified more Isn T the beast makes an appearance in the movie Brotherhood of the Wolf. I love that movie so much. I can't even describe that goes into the category of Cinema that I like to call out from OZ, because it's a little cheesy but also really fantastic fun, and it has been SL, which is the important part for me. And the Java region is now part of the Department of Luxury air. That happened after french revolution that so that was not in play when this was going on right. So that is the beast of Jordan creepy.
And yet, though, the book Was the primary source on this normally, when I research episodes there like fifteen or twenty sources at least This one was mostly sourced from a book by J Smith called monsters of the debate on which was pebble. by Harvard University Press in two thousand and eleven that's pretty much. The source in English hung his story. Though it I've allow more detail about various things that went on. If you are interested in it, I had to it from Inter Library loan, which is, I had a time it just right so If this story interests you. I highly recommend that book since a sort of that the big It talks a lot about how the the search for what was this animal kind of distress from the greater story of like why p
in France were so obsessed with this thing. When it was my answer, red. Thank you so much for joint action on this Saturday. If you have heard an email address or a facebook url or something similar over the course of today's episode, since it is from the archive that might be out of date, now you can email us at history podcast at house, works, dot com, and you can find us all over social media at missed in history, and you can subscribe. to our shadow on Apple podcast, Google Podcast the Iheart Radio APP and wherever else he wasn't, the podcast study must, in history glasses of production of Iheart radios. Housetop works for more PA tasks. For my, how radio visit thy heart, radio, Appleton guests or wherever you listen to your favorite, shows.
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