2000 ans d'histoire

version française

Les loups enragés : des agresseurs malgré eux

The identity of the attacker
Rabies: a fearful illness
Sources of information
Alarm bells...
Notes and References

"We are not sure yet that the wolf had rabies, but appearances make us fear it, these sorts of animals do not attack people without being rabid; it is an ordinary wolf which only bit, taking nothing away."

Departmental archives of Indre-et-Loire, C 412, Richelieu, letter of 3 February 1750.

In wolf attacks on humans, rabid wolves did not strictly speaking devour their victims: they tore, shredded, and stripped... to the horror of observers. Deprived of its reasonable behaviour by the viral infection, the animal lost its normal caution around its main enemy. Its actions were nothing like those of a man-eating wolf­. Aside from the seasonality of attacks, with a marked preference for winter, other factors contrast radically with man-eating wolves. The distribution of attacks shows a geographical opposition. Whilst man-eating wolf attacks were concentrated in a few red zones, the relatively uniform distribution of attacks by rabid wolves gives a contrasting image .

The identity of the attacker

By this point, rabies was well identified in areas where wolf attacks occurred. From 1797 to 1813, according to the official statistics recorded by the Ministry of the Interior, 1.2 to 2% of all the adult animals killed were rabid wolves.1In 1883, the summary of the bounties paid on the French territory isolates 1.1% of adult specimens destroyed "for attacking humans."2.

"Furious", "spoiled", "bad": these were characteristic terms describing wolves with a viral infection of the nervous system. This is clear when examining the corpus we have gathered – 355 spates of attacks for 1123 victims bitten by rabid wolves. Leaving aside the few mentions of rabies for which the documentation does not provide a certain indication of the attacker (28 cases), there are still 327, providing a reliable database of information. The very classification of a "rabid" wolf mostly came from the pen of our informers themselves (table 1).

Table 1.

Designation of rabid wolves

Source: corpus of 327 identified attackers (1578-1887)




Ferocious beast



Name other than "wolf"

Rabid beast


Evil beast


Rabid dog


Evil dog








Vicious she-wolf




Wolf (hunting, cruel, flesh-hungry, or hound)


Large (enormous or monstrously sized wolf)


Wolf of extraordinary or monstrous size


Bad wolf


Rabid wolf




Rabid wolf


Rabid wolf (linguistic variant)


Rabid she-wolf


Wolf mad with rabies


Enormous or monstrous rabid wolf


Large rabid wolf


Furious wolf


Furious she-wolf


Wolf of extraordinary fury


Rabid "werewolf"


Spoiled wolf


Bad wolf


Foaming-mouthed wolf


Vicious or enraged wolf


Hydrophobic wolf


Sick wolf


Rabid "hunting wolf"


Even if our sources make attacks by rabid wolves less visible, they do not exclude them. However, even only looking at the parish records and administrative accounts which indicate the dramatic episodes, it is clear that until the mid-19th century, on a qualitative level, wolves were the most dangerous carrier of rabies for humans. Asked to compare the effects of rabies transmission to men from dogs and wolves, Louis Pasteur concluded that the incubation period was much shorter and the mortality much higher for those infected by Canis lupus3.

"Whilst dogs often bite only the body parts that are most easily reached, wolves are more furious and more ferocious, primarily attacking the head, face, neck, and uncovered parts. The attack is frenzied and vicious, with numerous, deep and extensive bites; wolves shred tissues, sometimes go through to and break bones, and cause considerable damage, impregnating the many wounds with its virulent saliva [...] so that they not only transmit a greater amount of the virus to their victims than dogs, but also inoculate it more deeply and frequently into tissues where it absorbs and proliferates more easily4. »

Although much rarer than rabid dogs in the 19th century, infected wolves certainly represented a significant danger, at least locally, in preceding centuries. According to death records, their attacks were the most spectacular and direct source of infection for men. The relative silence in our sources is undoubtedly not an exact indicator of the reciprocal significance of attacks between the two canine "sub-species." ­Checking in hospital archives would allow researchers to gain more precise information on the unequal occurrence of human rabies according to the nature of the attacker. We know that further research is required. However, it is difficult to imagine that those who wrote death records for people with rabies generally underplayed dogs and emphasized wolves. Finally, it appears highly reasonable to think that faced with rabid dogs, men were often better equipped to react than against rabid wolves: from the very first symptoms, most dogs with suspected rabies were undoubtedly killed.

Canis lupus comes in first by far, with 96% of mentions found. Wolves' muscular power, extreme physical endurance, and prodigious jaw strength (able to exert pressure of over 150 kg/cm², compared to just 60 for most dog species) made the attacks more destructive. Tireless hunters, wolves were ready to fight head-on with humans and attack the face: much more than dogs, which simply "drew blood". Wolves caused deep wounds and irreparable mutilation.­ They could attack victims extremely persistently: on 7 February 1823, having gone to make willow ties in a wood near Provins (Seine-et-Marne), Charles Migniot encountered a furious wolf which bit him "in more than 80 places" before he was rescued by three labourers who beat the attacker with shovels5. Wolves were the only animal in our temperate regions (aside from bears, which were much rarer) able to cause such serious injuries to humans. Aside from fatalities on the day due to the violence of the attack, the severity of the bites to the neck and head condemned many victims to death. Witnesses of attacks, who were plentiful because rabid wolves caused terror in several parishes before being killed or dying of rabies, made no mistake about this.

When rabid wolves attacked, the physical attributes of the attacker were striking for observers, particularly the size, judged "enormous" or "monstrous". The number of mentions of attackers said to be 6 feet long (1.95m) from the muzzle to the base of the tail is too frequent to be entirely reliable: in the mouths of witnesses or victims in a stressful situation, the expression took on an emphatic character. Nevertheless, it did refer to extraordinarily large wolves. In July 1773, when one of these monstrous wolves, which had bitten "ten or twelve people and sixty cattle, horses and pigs", was killed by three trackers from the parish of Chapaize (Saône-et-Loire), the body was examined. This four-year-old adult was 5'7" long (1.81 m): much larger than most wolves (1.30 m)6. Although it did not reach the gigantic size of 6 feet, the attacker came close, and it is certain that for bigger wolves, rabies contamination only made their attacks more damaging. On 16 June 1785, when the Duke of Penthièvre's gamekeeper destroyed the rabid wolf that had just attacked nine people and 35 animals, the height of 6 feet, difficult to believe, seems more to be suggestive of the ease with which the wolf attacked the faces of victims:

"It was an extraordinarily large wolf, which on its hind legs could bite at a height of 6 feet. It ran so fast it seemed to fly; it could leap 7 to 8 feet in the air, and over a distance of 12 to 15 feet. It breathed with a terrifying noiset7.

In all periods, the animal attacked alone: in all the spates of attacks collected here, there is no definite trace of attacks by a pack, or even by a pair of wolves. Of course, in second-hand sources such as extracts from the press, there are mentions of "rabid wolves", but the plural is undoubtedly used only for journalistic effect. In one case, there is a relatively precise reference to two animals attacking, but they struck separately8. Aside form this exception, there is always just one contaminated animal. Contrary to what has been established for predation, in which the animal may work with several other wolves, rabid wolves therefore act alone. This indicates that for Canis lupus, infection by the virus rarely affected a group, and was most often restricted to isolated individuals. For France in the 16th to 19th centuries, the observation strictly confirms the conclusions of the international report initiated by the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment in 20029.

Rabies: a fearful illness

A disease which affects all mammals, and is transmitted to humans by wild and domestic animals, rabies is the best-known zoonosis, and one of the worst feared most widespread in the world. For thousands of years, it struck as a virulent infectious (and therefore contagious) disease, which men generally contracted when bitten by an infected animal. Historians of medicine have clearly emphasised the danger caused by this transmissibility. Its symptomatology and its clinical evolution have given rise to a considerable amount of literature and works. In the interests of clarity, we will limit ourselves to a simple reminder here10.

Classified as one of the rhabdovirus group, the pathogenic agent is a long "bullet shape". With a diameter of around 70 nanometres (thousandths of a millimetre) and a length of 130 to 300 nanometres, the rabies virus could not be seen until the 1960s, through an electronic microscope. It has an envelope (a double phospholipidic it layer) which contains lipids. This is an important particularity, because certain solvents have long acted as antiseptics for rabies. The virus is fragile, and cannot survive for very long outside of its host. It is quickly destroyed by light and heat (15 minutes at 50°C), which explains the effectiveness of the early cauterisation used on bite wounds in the past. It is transmitted by the saliva of carrier animals, anaerobically (through bites and scratches), under the skin and mucus membranes. Although the virus is highly infectious, inoculation can fail on humans, if the clothing wipes the fangs as they pass, or if the lesion is too superficial for the virus to come into contact with a nerve ending. Finally, the quantity of virus inoculated, or the infecting dose, may be insufficient. Consequently not all bites from a rabid animal necessarily transmit the disease.

Entering the organism by force, the virus penetrates the nearby muscular cells by attaching to the membrane of the nerve cells, in order to move from neurone to neurone until it reaches the nerve centres by travelling along the peripheral nerves. The time taken for this process varies, and the contaminated subject feels absolutely nothing coming: the incubation phase is completely silent. The bite therefore leads to a local infection, which slowly spreads towards the central nervous system. According to the location of the contamination point, and its distance from the brain, incubation can take a few days to several weeks, or even several months, as we will see in our sources shortly. Once it reaches the brain, the virus triggers encephalitis, the consequences of which are always fatal in humans. The progressive invasion of the nerve centres causes the first behavioural problems. When the virus moves back down the nerves from the brain, various paralyses occur, the most significant being that of the pharynx, preventing swallowing. This is the moment when the infection of the saliva glands by the nervous fibres makes the saliva contagious.

In wolves, the disease differs little from its manifestation in dogs, which is well documented. Depending on the areas of the brain primarily infected, the evolution varies: certain immediately paralytic forms (known as "quiet rabies") render the animal inoffensive. However, other (unfortunately majority) forms correspond to a "furious rabies", in which the animal repeatedly attacks and inoculates through biting. During the clinical phase of the disease, the rabid dog moves as far as possible until exhausted. Wolves present greater physical resistance, as seen from the scale of the attacks. Sensitivity problems appear, and swallowing becomes more and more difficult. Then, the animal truly becomes furious, throwing itself at all animate creatures that it encounters in its obstinate flight onwards, condemned by "procursive rabies"11.

In humans, as in wolves, the overt disease lasts around three days, and at this stage, no treatment was envisageable until recent therapeutic attempts. It should be remembered that in order to be effective, the Pasteurian antiserum must be administered as soon as possible after the bite, and has no effect on overt symptoms. The first symptom is a feeling of unexplained sadness, and a need for isolation. This is followed by fever, anxiety and hallucinations. The sufferer experiences hypersensitivity, with light, sound, and the sight of water causing contractures or trembling. As the sufferer sweats abundantly, they unavoidably become thirsty, and desperately seek water. However, when trying to swallow a mouthful of liquid, they experience horribly painful, localised spasms of the larynx and pharynx muscles. These cause such intense terror that they no longer dare to drink, in spite of their relentless thirst. This quickly establishes a panic reflex associated with water, but also with all other liquids. This hydrophobia is so distinctive that the Ancients used it to refer to the illness12. In extreme situations, the subject suffers violent convulsions, and alternates between fits of furious rage and phases of lucidity. Foaming saliva, which can no longer be swallowed, spills out of the lips, meaning that any bite would be as dangerous as that of a rabid carnivore. The infected person finally falls into a coma, suffering multiple organic lesions, then death comes with paralysis of the respiratory muscles.

In 1546, Italian doctor Jérôme Fracastor, best known for his works on syphilis, provided a striking description of these symptoms :

"The sufferer cannot stand still or lie down, and they move around like a maniac, tearing at their body with their hands. They are stuck by a terrible thirst, but most cruelly of all, they are so afraid of water and all liquids that they would rather die than drink or be taken to water. Sometimes, the sufferers may bite others, foaming at the mouth, their eyes rolling, then, exhausted, they heave their last miserable breath13. "

So from century to century, attacks by rabid wolves have produced the same, so often spectacular, effects. In July 1590, young Jeanne from Belfort, disfigured by a rabid wolf whilst picking cherries, provided a typical example:

"She wouldn't hear of drinking water, wine or milk; if water was put near her, she was seized by fury. On 18 July, 24 hours after being bitten, she became furious, and not speaking, wanted to go out, slathered, climbed, struggled and struck her legs."14

On 20 February 1764, 84 year-old Gilbert Béchon (known as Le Breton), long known for his penchant for drink, caused alarm among the other victims of the rabid wolf in Thiers (Puy-de-Dôme) by exhibiting the first symptoms of hydrophobia. Announcing his death shortly afterwards, the subdelegate told the intendant of Auvergne that:

"I witnessed his fear of fluids in general, and particularly for the wine he had been so familiar with. Just seeing the vessel from which he had so often drunk this liquor sent him into violent convulsions for several minutes, which he admitted being unable to stop if the liquor was brought close enough for him to smell it."15

Once the disease became overt, it inexorably progressed towards an often violent death. Until the first vaccination by doctors Grancher and Vulpian under Pasteur, on 6 July 1885, there was no effective way of preventing its development. In May 1883, with rabid wolves still attacking in Dordogne, two little girls of a sharecropper – "Colonel" Feuillaret – were bitten by a female wolf in a village in Double. The youngest at 26 months, whose head was crushed, died in the attack, but the elder was disfigured and died of rabies 37 days later in Mussidan hospice. A newspaper account of the five-year-old child's suffering in the Journal de Ribérac emphasises that doctors could do nothing other than anxiously wait for the vaccine to be perfected. Beyond the somewhat overinflated language inherent in this type of source, the kind of public salvation attached to the combat against rabies, even before the scientific work was complete, is clear (document 1).

Document 1.

One of the last victims of a rabid wolf in France?

Lucie Feuillaret (5 years), bitten in Périgord in 1883

Source: Journal de Ribérac, 29 June 1883

« On se rappelle que, le mois dernier, une petite fille de cinq ans, nommée Lucie Feuillaret, fut mordue par un loup enragé dans la commune de Saint-Étienne-de-Puycorbier. L’enfant avait été placée à l’hospice de Mussidan et, grâce aux bons soins de MM. Les docteurs de Labrousse et Vidal, les blessures se cicatrisèrent bientôt, et les bonnes sœurs, qui s’étaient attachées à leur intéressante malade, voyaient déjà avec regret approcher le jour où il faudrait la rendre à ses parents ; mais hélas ! malgré des apparences contraires, Lucie Feuillaret était atteinte d’un mal qui ne pardonne guère et contre lequel ma science humaine est complètement désarmée.

Le mercredi 13 juin, la fillette refusa de manger, en disant qu’elle souffrait du ventre et de la tête. Bientôt la fièvre s’empara d’elle et, dès le lendemain jeudi, les hommes de l’art pouvaient prévoir l’horrible crise qui allait avoir lieu. Dans la nuit du 16 au 17, Lucie Feuillaret fut prise de l’affreux délire qui caractérise les maladies rabiques. La malheureuse hydrophobe se figurait être perdue dans un désert et, la figure convulsée, la bave à la bouche, on l’entendait crier : « Sortez-moi de ce chemin !... Je veux m’en aller ! ».

Cette phrase revenait sans cesse sur ses lèvres en feu et son petit corps, secoué par des spasmes nerveux, sautait et se tordait de telle façon qu’on avait peine à la maintenir dans son lit. Pour arriver à maîtriser cet enfant de cinq ans, dont l’épouvantable délire effrayait tout le personnel de l’hôpital, on fut obligé de lui mettre la camisole de force. Rendue impuissante, l’infortunée fillette continua à souffrir et à écumer une bave sanguinolente. Il était sept heures du matin quand l’innocente martyre rendit le dernier soupir.

On nous assure, et nous le croyons sans peine, que plusieurs des personnes qui ont assisté à l’agonie terrifiante de cette pauvre enfant en ont été malades durant plusieurs jours. On frémit en songeant que les médecins sont impuissants en présence de pareilles souffrances ! Espérons que l’infatigable M. Pasteur finira par trouver le remède qu’il recherche depuis tant d’années et qui le classera parmi les grands bienfaiteurs de l’humanité. »

In wolves, the main symptoms leave little room for doubt: aggression, a furious urge to bite any moving creature on the exposed parts, heavy salivation, and paralysis of the larynx which stops the wolf devouring its victims (unlike man-eating wolves).

When rabid wolves were killed, autopsy reports showed that the stomach and entrails had dried out, or conversely that the sick animal had ingested elements but not digested them. In 1590, the rabid female wolf in the Pays de Montbéliard was an "old red wolf, with worn teeth, bald flanks and tail, and nothing in its stomach, but milk in its teats."16Two centuries later, in Rieumes (Haute-Garonne), a "vicious" she-wolf was shot twice with a rifle on 6 November 1778. The surgeon who examined it found its intestines "totally empty of food and excrement."17A century later, on 5 October 1874, when an autopsy was performed on the rabid wolf that had "devoured" little Marie Favreau in La Rochette (Charente), to the north of the Braconne forest, the surgeon found the pieces of the victim's flesh almost intact.18As for the wolf of Tendu (Indre), killed on 17 July 1879, its stomach, compressed by several days without food, was found to contain substances that a carnivore would not normally eat. From among pieces of wool, the left hand thumb and part of the left ear of Henri Berlot, who had fought against the beast, were removed. The macabre relic of this hero who died of rabies 35 days later in hospital, preserved in alcohol, stills bears witness to the cruelty of rabid wolf attacks19.

Sources of information

Relatively well identified by contemporaries, the spates of rabid wolf attacks nevertheless create difficulties for historians in the gathering of documentation. Unlike for attacks by man-eating wolves, the parish registers of a locality cannot guarantee a general indication of the victims. Firstly, many of the people bitten died outside of their parish, travelling (often a long way) in the hope of a cure, or in a hospital bed in a neighbouring town. Secondly, the periods of lucidity allowed by the disease gave victims a chance to receive the sacraments, so many priests had no particular reason to indicate the cause of death. From the secularisation of the civil state in September 1792, the mayors responsible for death records had no more motive to evoke bites suffered several weeks previously, nor to characterise the clinical state of the deceased. At community level, the death records therefore do not provide exhaustive information. Nevertheless, the dramatic circumstances in which rabies victims died led many writers to provide very useful details for researchers, allowing them to identify numerous additional cases. If death did not occur too long afterwards, if the victim was not isolated, or if their behaviour due to the illness generated compassion, or even if they were the person who saved the region by killing the animal, there were many reasons prompting people to write.

Attentive examination of the registers allows historians to find further cases. One example, from Saint-Jean-de-Braye (Loiret), is the death record for Martin Chereau, 56, dated 13 November 1692. There is no direct attribution to a wolf bite. However, in a previous note written on 17 September, the priest indicates that in his parish, the man was the only victim of a presumed rabid wolf attacking in the region. Returning to the next record, we can see that our parishioner only received the sacraments of penitence and extreme unction: "the only ones of which he was capable." Another example is Marie-Louise Jouan, 28, of Francières (Oise), dated 1 April 1730. Her violent illness meant that the priest did not want to "attempt the Holy Eucharist". The inability to receive communion leads us to believe that she had rabies.

Faced with this situation, and to avoid endless collection of information in parish records, historians are making increasing use of administrative enquiries conducted in response to rabid wolf attacks, in order to assess the state of the victims, compensate families, reduce taxes, or reward those who risked their lives to rid the area of the scourge. The Ancien Regime administrative archives, and those of 19th century préfectures (French administrative districts) contain thick files, usefully completed with medical reports. Very often, these data can be crossed with civil records, but sometimes, when death records are found, they do not mention the cause of death. Finally, medical sources are very rich. Firstly, hospital registers record admissions, discharges, and deaths. These require large-scale (at least inter-regional) analysis. There are also abundant writings from the medical community, from general treatises to simple empirical reports, some printed, but most hand-written. If these are combined with the often thick files of correspondence left with the administration by doctors and surgeons, the scale of their task becomes evident.

Alarm bells...

On a local scale, attacks by a rabid wolf were a true plague. The frantic ringing of church bells was used to alert people. The alarm bell, with its quick and disordered ring, signalled the severity of the collective drama far and wide. Every time the little bell rang feverishly, the population, scattered around and going about their various activities, would quickly come together. As emphasised by Alain Corbin, the alarm bell was "an instrument of contagion for alarm and fear"20. Its use when a rabid wolf attacked indicates that such incidents were considered natural disasters, much like fires, floods, or storms.

The bell was rung in the village of Villadin (Haute-Marne), between 3 PM and 4 PM on 27 December 1773: a female rabid wolf had just furiously bitten the local shepherd, his brother and a neighbour, in the woods where the flock was grazing. In Charolais, on 10 December 1775, alerted by the sound of the alarm bell, around twenty armed people finally ended the ravages of the Charolais wolf on a tenant farm in Marisy (Saône-et-Loire). On 15 April 1783, children from Argoulois (Nièvre), terrified when one of them was attacked by a rabid wolf, climbed trees before running to report the accident. The distraught parents went to Montsauche to sound the alarm bell. Hearing it, "everyone gathered... armed with rifles and clubs" to hunt down the attacker. On 16 June 1785 in Créancey (Haute-Marne), the alarm bell rang again to warn the population of the imminent arrival of a rabid wolf: "Everyone of working age was out in the vineyards and fields." On 2 and 3 December 1811, the same occurred in Chassenard, in Bourbonnais, when the mayor ordered for a wolf which had come out of the woods to be killed. As for all other natural disasters, the alarm bell warned the people, even beyond the territorial limits of the town. Its fast, irregular ring played a particularly important warning role given the dispersed habitat in the region. The animal's deadly journey spread terror from domain to domain (document 2).

Document 2.

From domain to domain:

The deadly journey of the wolf of Chassenard (Allier) in 1811

Source : Feuille du département de l’Allier (sheet for the Allier department) containing administrative records, judicial announcements, posters and various notices, 9th year, 274, letter from the male of Chassenard to the sub-prefect of Lapalisse, Thursday 12 December 1811

« Un événement affreux vient d’avoir lieu dans ma commune ; un loup sorti d’un bois voisin, et que je présume enragé, a dévoré ou tenté de dévorer 17 personnes, depuis le 2 du courant, à 4 heures du soir, jusqu’au lendemain 3, à 7 heures du matin.

1°. À 4 heures du soir, une pauvre femme ayant un enfant à la mamelle, lavait ses langes dans un étang ; cet animal furieux s’est jeté sur elle, l’a renversée dans l’étang, l’a saisie de nouveau par la tête, l’a retirée de l’eau, lui a enlevé presque la totalité de la peau qui couvre le crâne, la figure, le col et la poitrine ; il lui a arraché un œil et cassé la mâchoire inférieure. Cette infortunée est la femme du nommé Berger.

2°. Au village Layot, il a saisi et mordu la servante du nommé Meilleuré, et lui a fait cinq plaies au bras.

3°. Au hameau des Blancs, il s’est jeté sur le nommé Benoît Margot, lui a presque arraché l’oreille gauche, enlevé une partie de la peau de la tête, fait une plaie considérable au bras droit, et percé la main droite entre le pouce et l’index.

4°. Dans le bourg même de Chassenard, il s’est jeté sur le sieur Louis Bernardet et a essayé de le mordre au sein gauche ; on y voit la marque de cinq dents.

5°. Au domaine Verdelet, il s’est précipité sur Jean Laforêt, lui a porté ses griffes sur l’œil droit, et lui a fait une morsure profonde à la hanche droite.

6°. Au domaine des Morets, il a mordu quatre personnes : François Berlier, auquel il a fait deux morsures à l’épaule ; le grand-père Berlier, dont il a couvert la figure de morsures et de plaies ; leur domestique auquel il a fait une blessure profonde à la jambe gauche et enlevé la chair ; et enfin, un enfant de 10 ans, dont il a enlevé la peau de la tête, et par une seconde morsure, celle de la mâchoire.

7°. Au domaine Bourbon, il s’est jeté sur la domestique nommée Sève, lui a fait deux morsures au bras et de là, s’est jeté sur deux chevaux qu’il a mordus.

8°. Au domaine de la Croix Rouge, il s’est jeté sur Pierre Mequeaud avec une telle fureur qu’il lui a déboîté la mâchoire, et enlevé une partie de la peau qui la couvrait.

9°. À côté de ce domaine, il s’est jeté sur Philibert Alamartine ; cet homme robuste et adroit a repoussé l’animal furieux et n’a pas été mordu, mais le loup a mordu un cochon.

10°. Au domaine Bournier, il est entré dans la maison, s’est jeté sur un enfant de 15 ans ; il lui a fait deux morsures au ventre, et a emporté toute la partie postérieure du cuir chevelu jusqu’au cou. Le père de cet enfant, nommé Lamelerie, s’est armé d’un grappin servant à attiser le feu, l’a plongé dans la gueule du loup qui voulait se jeter sur lui ; cet animal l’a laissé un moment, puis est revenu sur lui ; Lamelerie s’est armé d’une chaise et a enfin chassé de chez lui l’animal furieux.

11°. Au domaine des Granges, il s’est jeté sur Guillaume Bilhaud, cherchant à le mordre à la tête ; cet homme robuste a résisté, et le loup s’est retiré sans le mordre.

12°. Au domaine des Gonons, il est entré dans une écurie à bœufs, s’est précipité sur François Berthelier, bouvier, a cherché à le mordre à la cuisse gauche ; le mouchoir de cet homme s’est trouvé dans sa poche et l’a garanti ; le loup l’a quitté et s’est jeté sur un bœuf qui était à côté, l’a mordu aux narines et en a emporté une partie.

13°. Au domaine de Chamberland, le domestique de Jacques Coquard entrait à la maison portant deux seaux d’eau ; l’animal l’a suivi et a cherché à entrer avec lui ; le domestique a pu heureusement fermer la porte et n’a pas été mordu.
    Pénétré d’horreur de ces affreux spectacles, je m’étends peut-être trop à vous les raconter. Il ne me reste rien à ajouter si ce n’est que cet animal a tué sept chiens ; et que, de ces sept chiens, il y en a trois dont on n’a pas trouvé les cadavres. Il a été vu en plusieurs circonstances se laissant traîner attaché aux vêtements des personnes qu’il attaquait. Les habitants des communes environnantes, ceux même de Digoin, avertis par mes soins et par le son du tocsin, sont accourus de toutes parts ; la colonne mobile de Digoin venait aussi à notre secours, mais déjà l’animal furieux était détruit lorsqu’elle est arrivée.
    Jean-Louis Bonnefoi, cultivateur à Chassenard, l’a terrassé d’un premier coup de fusil ; et François Gome, garde, lui a tiré un second coup. Philibert Goui, journalier, lui a tiré un troisième coup, qui l’a achevé ... »

Notes and References

1 Alain Molinier, « Le loup en France à la fin du XVIIIe siècle et au début du XIXe siècle », in Corinne Beck et Robert Delort (éd.), Pour une histoire de l’environnement. Travaux du programme interdisciplinaire de recherche sur l’environnement, Paris, cnrs, 1993, p. 141-145.
2 9 animaux (4 en Dordogne, 3 en Haute-Saône et 1 dans les Alpes-Maritimes) sur 812 (779 louves et 33 loups adultes), tous enragés car aucune imputation de prédation n’est alors avancée : Bulletin du ministère de l’Agriculture, 1884, 3, p. 292-293 (renseignement aimablement communiqué par Edgar Leblanc).
3 J. Sandre, « Le loup de 1706. Documents divers. Un autographe de Pasteur », Annales de l’Académie de Mâcon, 1896, p. 270.
4 Cité par Corinne Lévy, La Peur du loup : origines et évolution, thèse vétérinaire, Lyon, 1988, p. 112-113.
5 Arch. dép. Seine-et-Marne, 5 R 55.
6 Sa queue était longue de 14 pouces (37,8 cm) : Arch. dép. Côte-d’Or, C 3355, f° 199 ; cf. aussi Frédéric Brochot, Chapaize. Le curé, les loups, la chasse et la forêt, Bussières (71960), chez l’Auteur, 1992, p. 73-75.
7 Note du curé à la fin du registre paroissial de 1785 (Arch. dép. Haute-Marne, état civil Créancey) ; Jean Gigot, « Le loup enragé de Créancey », Cahiers Haut-Marnais, 6, [1947], p. 133-134.
8 Le 12 juin 1883 au village de Gardedeuil, dans la commune d’Eygurande (Dordogne) deux loups commettent des agressions dont l’un, un mâle de 65 livres, est abattu ; le lendemain, une « énorme louve » attaque deux personnes à Beauronne, à vingt kilomètres à l’est  : Le Journal de Ribérac, 15 et 22 juin 1883.
9 John D. C. Linnell et al., The Fear of Wolf. A review of wolf attacks on humans, Trondheim, janvier 2002, www.large-carnivores-lcie.org (Nina, Norks institut for naturforskning, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research Oppdragsmelding, 731). Trad. française : Robert Igel et Thierry Paillargues, www.loup.org, 2002, p. 11).
10. Jean Théodoridès, Histoire de la rage. Cave canem, Paris, Masson, 1986, 289 p. (avec bibliographie de référence) ; Jean Blancou, Histoire de la surveillance et du contrôle des maladies animales trans­missibles, Paris, Office international des épizooties, 2000, p. 199-228. Cf. aussi Sylvie et Robert Biton, Les Loups dans l’Yonne, [Ancy-le-franc, chez l’Auteur], 1992, p. 87-90.
11 Sur cette question, cf. en particulier Edmond Nodard et Emmanuel Leclainche, Les maladies microbiennes des animaux, 3e éd., Paris, Masson, 1903, t. II, p. 434 (information aimablement communiquée par François Vallat).
12 Jean-Marie Roustan, « Une lutte sans merci : la destruction des loups dans le Tarn de la Révolution à la fin du XIXe siècle », Revue du Tarn, 116, hiver 1984, p. 668.
13. L. Meunier (éd.), Les trois livres de Jérôme Fracastor sur la contagion, les maladies contagieuses et leur traitement, Paris, 1893, p. 156, cité par Jean Théodoridès, Histoire de la rage…, 1986, p. 65.
14. Léon Nardin, « Jean Bauhin et ses observations sur la rage en 1590 aux environs de Belfort », Bulletin de la Société belfortaine d’émulation, 1894, 13, p. 127.
15 Claude Favrot, Les Loups en Auvergne dans la tradition orale et écrite, thèse vétérinaire, Alfort, 1986, p. 17.
16 Léon Nardin, « Jean Bauhin et ses observations sur la rage en 1590 … », 1894, 13, p. 128.
17 A. de Gaulejac, « Des loups dans la forêt royale ! », Revue de Comminges, Pyrénées Centrales, lxxxviii, 1er trimestre 1975, p. 83-86.
18Alberte Cadet, « Les loups en Charente », Mémoires de la Société archéologique et historique de la Charente, 1960, p. 196-197.
19 Raymond Rollinat, « Le loup commun. Canis lupus Linné. Quelques-uns de ses méfaits. Sa disparition presque complète en France », Revue d’Histoire naturelle, X, 7, juillet 1929, p. 221-225 et 29-230 ; Daniel Bernard, Un loup enragé en Berry. La bête de Tendu-Mosnay (1878), 2e éd., 1997, 137 p. ; id., Des loups et des hommes. Histoire et traditions populaires, Clermont-Ferrand, De Borée, 2000, p. 38.
20 Alain Corbin, Les Cloches de la terre. Paysage sonore et culture sensible dans les campagnes du XIXe siècle, Paris, A. Michel, 1994, p. 185.