Cool Stuff in Paris. By Manning Leonard Krull.

The Wolves of Paris

Wolf design on the floor of Saint-Chapelle.

Les Loups de Paris — the Wolves of Paris — were a pack of man-eating wolves who terrorized Paris during the winter of 1450. Normally, of course, wolves in France and elsewhere remain in the forest to hunt wild animals and don't pose a threat to humans, but this particular winter was especially harsh and prey were scarce, so the desperate and starving wolves had no choice but to make Paris their new hunting ground.

The wolves were able to enter Paris through breaches in the city's poorly maintained outer walls, which had been erected in the early 13th century by King Philippe Auguste to protect the city from invaders of the human variety. The walls had fallen into a state of disrepair during more peaceful times, and the wolves managed to get through — I'm unable to find record of any huffing or puffing involved. And throughout that one long winter in 1450, the wolves managed to kill forty Parisians, sending the city into a state of panic. The wolf problem dominated gossip city-wide, and the Parisians even gave a nickname to the pack's leader: "Courtaud," meaning Bobtail.

Eventually the besieged citizens of Paris had had enough, and they concocted a scheme to get rid of Courtard and his bloodthirsty pack once and for all. A large group of brave Parisians lured and prodded the wolves onto the isolated Ile de La Cité in the center of town, and the crowd stoned and speared the entire pack to death right in the public square in front of Notre Dame.

There's a historical fiction novel covering the story of the Wolves of Paris, called, appropriately, The Wolves of Paris, by Daniel P. Mannix. I haven't read it myself but I'd love to check it out, just to see if it fills in any of the gaps I've found in all the accounts of the story I've been able to dig up. If you get a chance to read the book, let me know if it's any good!

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