800: Jeanne Boulet

Victim of the Beast of Gévaudan

Born: c.1750, Most Likely France

Died: 30 June 1764, Gévaudan, France (Present-day Lozère, France)

The beast was a terrifying man-eating mythical beast that killed around 100 and left 300 more injured over a three-year span, from 1764 to 1767.

Jeanne was the first victim to die and was around fourteen years old at the time. She was the second victim overall, the first having been attacked two months earlier but surviving the encounter.

Jeanne had been watching her sheep when the beast, most likely a large wolf, attacked and completely devoured her body leaving only her clogs and bonnet behind.

The attacks got so bad the actual king of France, Louis XV, sent in troops to try and quell the beast. Stories of the beast spread across the world, appearing in newspapers from Boston to Brussels. The beast is seen by some as one of the first media sensations; and it couldn’t have hit at a worse time. France was still reeling after its humiliating defeat in the Seven Years’ War.

Several large creatures were shot and killed over the three-year period, until the attacks finally stopped in 1767 after another was killed. Though the body appeared to be a wolf, the features were different. People have speculated everything from a prehistoric holdout to a lion or hyena. Some even speculate a human serial killer was using a large dog to carry out attacks against other people. The truth will never be known for certain.

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National Geographic History Magazine Article "The Beast of Gevaudan" by Juan Jose Sanchez Arreseigor (September/October 2021 Edition)