20. The Strength to Survive
When it comes to the human body’s ability to survive, you’d be surprised at how resilient it can be. Even though science has proven the body can only go three days without water and seven without food, when push comes to shove, if your spirit is strong enough, you can survive the most extreme situations and environments.
For one village, they thought they had spotted a strange creature in the woods, but the truth was even more shocking.
19. The Creature in the Wilderness
In the year 1731, a strange creature was spotted by the villagers of the small town of Songy. Located in the northeast French region of Champagne-Ardenne, the creature was noticed in the surrounding forest swinging from the trees.
Even stranger, the creature had human features…
18. The Feral Girl
Upon closer inspection, it was determined that the creature was actually not a creature at all! It was a feral woman around 19-years-old who had spent ten years of her life wandering the miles of forests dotting the French countryside.
How on earth did she possibly get to be in such a state?
17. The Will to Survive
It seemed the young woman had learned to hunt and eat anything she could catch, learning quite quickly that in the wild you needed to be quick on your feet. She managed to hunt rabbits, squirrels, and foxes, while also fighting off predators with a wood club she had made herself.
16. Wild At Heart
The villagers were mesmerized by the strange girl in the woods and decided they wanted to capture her so they could learn more about her. They decided to send one young woman with a child of her own to interact with the girl. The woman offered her some fish and vegetables before slowly backing away from the feral women.
Would she understand a gesture of kindness?
15. Shamelessly Tricked
As the young woman came down from the tree and began to follow the woman with the child, the men of the village decided to jump out from their hiding places. The poor girl had no time to react before she was quickly captured.
14. Unable to Speak
Once the girl was captured, the people of the village tried to communicate with her. Unfortunately, the girl did not understand French and they weren’t able to find out where she came from or how she wound up in the woods for so long.
However, this was just the beginning of the mystery…
13. Closer Inspection
As the villagers continued to investigate the young woman, they found she only had two possessions—a knife and a wooden club. She was also dressed in a crude outfit made from rags and animal skins, and she wore gourd leaves on her head.
12. Strange Physical Features
As for the girl’s body, her fingers and thumbs and had grown unusually large. It was determined this was most likely from digging in the ground for food. The constant climbing of trees and swinging from branches would also account for her larger than life hands.
11. Layers of Grime and Dirt
The girl, at first glance, appeared to have dark black skin. However, the villagers soon learned after bathing her several times that she was white. Years of not bathing had created layers of dirt and grime on her skin, giving her the appearance of someone who could have been easily mistaken for African American.
10. A New Language
Realizing the girl needed more care than they could give, the villagers decided to send her to a hospital in Chalons known as St. Maur. There she received the best care while the staff tried to teach the girl French. This proved to be quite difficult since the girl had only used grunts and a made-up form of sign language to communicate up until this point.
9. Transforming Her Diet
The caretakers at the hospital were surprised at how well the young woman picked up on French, although changing her diet was another matter altogether. They slowly tried to replaced raw foods with cooked foods and wine, but it proved to be a complete failure.
8. A New Identity
The girl became gravely ill and seemed to never recover from the change in diet. Meanwhile, she was sent to the Roman Catholic Church to be baptized and renamed Marie-Angelique Memmie Le Blanc. Although she would gradually improve health-wise, she was never really the same again…
7. A Life Long Lost
It wouldn’t be long before Marie was fluent in French and could finally share her story. Apparently, when she was 8-years-old she had been ripped away from her home and was sold into slavery. During this time, she was painted black to blend in with the others who were sold.
However, the story doesn’t stop there…
6. Ten Years Alone
Marie weaved quite the thrilling tale, revealing she and a female companion had been shipwrecked together. After making it safely to shore, they both survived in the wilderness together until a disagreement made them part ways. Since that time, Marie had lived in isolation for over ten years.
5. Growing Fame
As word spread of the “savage” who had been taught to be civilized, Marie found herself thrust into unexpected fame. Her story spread through France, England, and Scotland, while notorious papers also published articles about her unique life.
4. Living a Full & Thriving Life
Marie would end up traveling across Europe, rubbing elbows with kings and queens, and the European elite. At one point she lived as a nun for some time, before setting her sights on the riches the world had to offer. Historians believe that her background, as well as way to charm during a conversation is what kept high society interested.
3. Belief in a Superior Race
Another reason why Marie was so popular with the French elite is that she supported their belief in a “superior race.” One where the white Christian was well above everyone else. This has been proven to contribute to her popularity.
2. Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous
Marie would befriend a wealthy duke in 1774, who eventually became her patron and offered her a daily allowance. After he died, she befriended writers and lawyers who ended up supporting her until her death in 1775 at the age of 63.
1. The Mystery of Marie
To this day, modern scholars continue to theorize about Marie’s actual identity. Some believe she happened to be a Native American who had been sold as a slave to the French, while others believe she wasn’t shipwrecked but had wandered into the woods during a plague quarantine. Regardless, her story is definitely an interesting one of a woman who transformed from a feral savage into one of French society’s most popular aristocrats.