The Real Story Of “Beauty And The Beast” Is Not So Pretty

We walked out of a screening of the opulent Beauty and the Beast wondering about the fairy tale’s history. It turns out the REAL story of Beauty and the Beast, which evolved into the Disney movie, is WAY more interesting than the fantasy version! (Not as pretty, though.) In 1537, a man named Petrus Gonsalvus was born in Spain’s Canary Islands suffering from the rare disease, hypertrichosis, (werewolf syndrome) that causes copious amounts of hair to grow on the face and body. He was a curiosity and treated like an animal – kept in a cage and fed raw meat as a child. At the age of ten he was shipped to King Henry II of France as a gift. The king was fascinated by the child and decided to try an experiment. He began educating the hairy child and treating him like a human. Petrus eventually had the upbringing and education of a nobleman and spoke three languages, and he was nicely dressed, yet he was still considered to be an “animal.” When the king died, his widow decided to conduct her own experiment – she wondered what would happen if the beast married a pretty woman. Would their children be little beasts? She found him a wife and they had seven children – four were afflicted with the genetic disease. The king’s widow was thrilled to have created a wild family. The beast and his wife and afflicted children toured European countries – eventually the hairy children were given away as gifts to entertain royalty! Not a happy ending like the Disney version…

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