New chapter for the Secrets d’Histoire collection. Stéphane Bern returns to one of the darkest and most mysterious pages in the history of France: the affair of the beast of Gévaudan, in the 18th century.

History terrifies the kingdom of Louis XV. In the land of Lozère, formerly called Gévaudan, a strange beast would appear out of nowhere and attack anyone in its path. From 1764 to 1767, it sows death, desolation and fear. The beast of Gévaudan is believed to be the cause of dozens of deaths and hundreds of injured.

1 / The first official victim in Ardèche In the early summer of 1764, Jeanne Boulet walked alone in the isolated countryside of the village of Saint-Étienne-de-Lugdarès, in Ardèche. The young woman is found half devoured in a field. The cruelty and savagery of the attack surprises and causes some panic. The beginning of the work of the beast of Gévaudan.

2 / A criminal profile difficult to draw If new attacks are reported in the same area, other incidents take place north-west of Mende. Each time, the ferocious beast arouses fear, dismay and dread. It targets both children and women, individuals alone or in groups. It is reported in the wildest places, but also in inhabited places. Very fast, it is able to travel 30 or 40 km per day. It can kill every day, even twice a day.

3 / An unchanging and frightening modus operandi The victims are very often partly devoured, dismembered, eviscerated. They bear traces of claws. The bones are crushed. It even happens that the attacker cuts off the heads of his targets and takes a piece of the corpse. On the other hand, the beast of Gévaudan never returns to the scene of his crime.

📌 Secrets of History on Louis XV and the Beast of Gévaudan, it’s tonight on @ France3tv with @bernstephane pic.twitter.com/rPXM339kpI

4 / The robot portrait of the serial killer People who have seen the ferocious beast often describe the same animal. He looks like a wolf, but much more monstrous. He has red hair. The chest is designated white / gray. His tail, still in the air, is huge. A black band is present on its back. Its size resembles that of a one-year-old calf. She has a head with small erect ears and reddish eyes. She is able to stand up on her hind legs.

5 / Two unexpected speakers In addition to the interventions of historians, veterinarians or curators, the beast of Gévaudan fascinates two illustrious public figures. In 2010, the journalist Jean-Claude Bourret wrote a two-volume work Le Secret de la bête du Gévaudan (éd. Du Signe), then in 2016 La bête du Gévaudan and other true stories (published by L’Archipel). For his part, the director and actor Alexandre Astier, whose family is from Lozère, signed the preface from the book Gévaudan: small stories of the great beast (Ex Aequo, 2018). In addition, for several years he has aspired to write a film around the myhte.

Secrets of History, Louis XV and the Beast of Gévaudan, Monday September 27 at 9:05 pm on France 3

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