11.8.15

Marie-Jeanne Valet, “Maid of the Gévaudan”

A sculpture of Marie-Jeanne Valet battling the Beast


Two hundred fifty years ago today, in the mid- to late morning of August 11, 1765, a young woman named Marie-Jeanne Valet, 19 or 20 years old, and her sister Thérèse, 16 or 17, were attacked by the Beast. 

Marie-Jeanne was a servant of the curate, or clergyman, of the parish of Paulhac. She and Thérèse were crossing the river Desges on their way to the community’s tithe farm. (Local peasants contributed a tithe, or one-tenth, of their output for the support of the local church and cleric; the crops, etc., were kept separately in a tithe barn.)

The Beast, lurking in the underbrush along the river banks, spotted the girls, and flung itself at Marie-Jeanne. 

Luckily, the sensible young woman had brought along a spear, “a pole with a blade, about six inches long and an inch wide, at the end of it,” per Beast chronicler Abbé Pierre Pourcher.

She used it.

Marie-Jeanne in action; she was called an "Amazon" and compared to Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans.
Marie-Jeanne Valet impaled the Beast with her weapon, actually pushing it over, all the while shouting for help, along with her sister. According to the accounts and letters presented by the Abbé, the creature retreated, “cried out very loudly and held her paw in front of the wound,” then “threw herself in the river, where she rolled over several times” before disappearing.

Later, when questioned by authorities, the girls described the Beast as being the size of a large farm dog. It was gray with a white chest and black back, they said. Its front was bigger than its rear. It had a big flat head and big teeth.

The authorities examined Marie-Jeanne’s spear and noted that the shaft of the weapon was coated in two to three inches of blood. The intrepid Marie-Jeanne was an “Amazon,” according to the press. Royal gunbearer François Antoine, impressed with her bravery and composure, called her as a second Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans. The girls, meanwhile, being uneducated, could not sign the statements documenting their experience.  


Today one may view a sculpture (pictured in this post) commemorating the valor of Marie-Jeanne Valet in a windswept churchyard in Auvers, France.

19 comments:

  1. Hi, Did you take the pictures in the post?

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  2. Yes, we did take the photos. Thank you for your interest.

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  3. I was just going through this because of the next teen wolf episode which is on the maid of gevaudan :)

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  4. did thid real happen ?? the attack of the beast ?/

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    1. Yes. The Beast or Beasts attacked a number of people from 1764 to 1767.

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  5. Is the beast still roaming the land?

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  6. No, the actual events happened 250 years ago. Thank you for your interest.

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  7. Did Marie have a brother. And what if this happened again and there was a girl that was born from Marie's family and she killed it but it was the same beast as the one Marie killed. That would be sick

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  8. This is fascinating really i hear many versions this is always the common one i hear the story from my grandmother who heard it from her and so on.

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    1. It is interesting that you heard the story from your grandmother, and she from hers, and so on.

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  9. wow, I want to know about this more, I saw this episode from Teen Wolf and I realised how interesting this actually is... Can I find more information about this?

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    1. Yes, there are several books about the story. Also, here is a good French website to check out: http://labetedugevaudan.com/home.html

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  10. In some accounts it is said the beast was killed by a local hunter named Jeanne Chastel but Antoine de Beauterne Marques Argents is also credited with the kill of not ably the beats but it's mate and whelps.

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    1. Yes. Antoine is said to have destroyed the first Beast in 1765. Jean Chastel killed the second in 1767.

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  11. it is said well i have heard that the beast killed up to 300 people

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    1. Figures vary and some deaths were probably never reported for various reasons. It is a fascinating case.

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