Wolf-hunting in France in the Reign of Louis XV: The Beast of the Gévaudan

~by Richard H. Thompson

After watching the French film Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte des Loups) and discovering that it was based on true events, I wanted to learn more about the incidents portrayed seeing as the movie was a bit fanciful (but I did enjoy it). Unfortunately, there have been very few works about The Beast of Gévaudan written in English. In fact, the book by Richard Thompson was the only one that I was able to find readily available.

Between the years 1764 and 1767, a region in south-central France was terrorised by a long and vicious series of attacks made by an unknown Beast. This animal displayed extremely odd and violent behaviours, favoring to attack humans rather than the flocks they were herding. The events are absolutely terrifying; the fact that attack went on for at least three years despite the extensive efforts made to hunt and kill the beast is astounding.

Thompson's hard work and research is readily apparent in his book. Not only does he recount all known recorded attacks by the Beast, he provides in great detail the history of the region and of the people involved. In fact, he includes so much information about everything, even things that aren't directly related to the Beast, that it can be fairly overwhelming. While Thompson firmly believes the Beast was a wolf, he does include a chapter covering some of the other theories that have been proposed. As far as I know, no consensus has ever been reached regarding the Beast's identity.

Wolf-hunting in France in the reign of Louis XV is a great scholarly resource on The Beast of Gévaudan. Although at times I felt I had to wade through sections, the book is an extremely valuable addition (especially in the English language)to the study of the Beast.