Gévaudan was exactly the type of place where you’d expect the supernatural to occur. Nestled in the south of France, it had a reputation for being isolated and remote. It was a region where people mainly kept to themselves, shrouded in a self-contained bubble and surrounded by forests and hillsides that may still have been enchanted.
In ancient Greece, some mystics used mirrors as a form of fortune telling and divination, a practice called catoptromancy. These “mirror seers” would dip a looking glass into water before having a sickly person look into it. If the image was distorted, they were done for. If clear, all would be well.
Children who scramble to grab the sweets rolling on the floor — forgetting their manners in the process — would soon feel the smarting of a switch coming hard across their backs.
To begin, it’s helpful to have some background on Samhain. In Celtic Ireland, around 2,000 years ago, Samhain represented the division between the lighter half of the year that was summer and the darker half that was winter. During the interim, ancient people believed that the line between the spirit world and the mortal one became so thin that the dead could pass through it and walk the earth once more.
“Nor did she deign to touch her food with her fingers, but would command her eunuchs to cut it up into small pieces, which she would impale on a certain golden instrument with two prongs and thus carry to her mouth. . . . this woman’s vanity was hateful to Almighty God; and so, unmistakably, did He take his revenge. For He raised over her the sword of His divine justice, so that her whole body did putrefy and all her limbs began to wither.”
Part of it is that he has a giving heart and empathy that runs deep, but another facet is his hatred for the gentry. He’s consistently appalled by their utter disdain for the poor and their tendency to prize animals, machinery, and other luxuries above them.
When they couldn’t be parted, Alfonso got desperate. Pedro and Inês had been happily in love for around ten years, living at Santa Clara Palace, in Coimbra, when the king reached his breaking point. He ordered three assassins — Pêro Coelho, Álvaro Gonçalves, and Diogo Lopes Pacheco — to murder his son’s beloved.
They exuded unparalleled toughness. Despite our romanticizing it, the ancient world was a hard, cruel place to live. Spartan mothers had to give up an infant to desertion if the state deemed it was too weak, and when she did have a strong son, she no longer lived with him once he turned seven and moved into the agoge. When she sent him off to war, it’s said that she did so with a warning: “return with your shield or on it.”