The Young Girl Who Married A Monster And Inspired A Disney Fairy Tale
Beauty and the beast wasn’t a fairy tale… not to the couple who lived it.
When she entered the chapel door and saw him, she was terrified.
She’d heard of creatures like him, in stories. Mythical wildman of the forest. A monster. Freak of nature. Some people said they ate children. She didn’t even know beasts were real and yet here one stood. Waiting at the altar. For her.
Like many brides of the 16th century, she’d never seen the groom she was about to marry. Meeting at the altar was common in arranged marriages, like theirs.
She didn’t know he was just as scared as she was.
Standing up at the altar, he trembled with fear. He was just seventeeen. A boy, really. She was so beautiful he couldn’t believe his eyes. But he’d turned to see her when the chapel door opened and saw the fear on her face.
He was as frightened as she was.
But nevermind their fear and racing hearts, the beauty would marry the beast.
The queen herself had arranged it.
He wasn’t a beast, he was a young man…
Pedro Gonzalez was born in the Canary Islands. He barely remembered his parents because he was kidnapped as a child. Chained and displayed as a curiosity.
He was born with congenital hypertrichosis terminalis, often called “Werewolf” Syndrome. It’s so rare only 50 people have been diagnosed with it since the 1500s.
At age 10, he was given to the King as a gift. It was common in the middle ages to give the King gifts of “dwarves” and rare animals. But when the royal doctor went down to the dungeons to examine the locked up creature, it cried and said “I am Pedro Gonzalez, I am Pedro Gonzalez” over and over.
For 7 years, the King raised the “creature” like a son. Pedro grew up in the glorious Fontainebleau Palace. He learned to read and write in 3 languages, including Latin. The King renamed him Petrus, the Latin version of his name.
Then the king died in a jousting match and the boy’s protector was gone.
There was no magic spell. Just greed.
When King Henry II died, Queen Catherine de’ Medici became regent and “inherited” the beast from her husband. Oh, she rubbed her hands in glee!
For seven years she’d been watching wealthy nobles send artists to France to draw the creature. The foolish King didn’t even charge them. Seven years she’d watched foreign dignitaries come to the palace to meet and dine with the beast.
She wondered if she could “breed” the beast and make more little beasts.
Methodically, she ordered every servant in her court to bring their unmarried daughters to meet her. She was looking for the most beautiful girl.
Her name wasn’t Belle, it was Catherine
When the queen met young Catherine, she knew she’d found the one. Chosen for her beauty. For her wide eyes, clear skin, and glorious hair. And young. Just a teenager.
Catherine was so unimportant that no one documented her maiden name. No one knew who her parents were. The child of some servant. She was unmarried and beautiful. That’s all that mattered.
The Queen just wanted to know what the offspring of a beautiful woman and the beast might look like. She hoped they’d make lovely beastly children together.
The marriage was arranged.
Like the fairy tale, true love prevailed…
After the initial shock at the altar, Catherine fell deeply in love with Petrus. He was gentle and kind, intelligent and loving. They were absolutely devoted to each other.
Their first child was born less than a year after the wedding. A second child quickly followed. Much to the queen’s frustration, they were normal, healthy little boys.
But finally, the queen’s experiment paid off. Their next four children were all born with hypertrichosis. Hairy little beasts. Just like their father.
The queen was absolutely delighted.
She commissioned portraits, but the normal children were kept out. She wanted to maintain the impression that she’d successfully created a “wildman of the forest” family. The portraits of the children were sent to nobles as gifts.
Many of the nobles wanted to see the children with their own eyes, and have their own portraits painted. They compensated the queen generously, of course.
There was no happy ending…
Beauty and the Beast is one of the most popular fairy tales of all time and one of the most beloved stories ever told, according to Disney. Their 2017 movie, starring Emma Watson, became one of the highest-grossing films of all time.
Here’s what Disney didn’t tell anyone.
It wasn’t a fairy tale… not to the couple who lived it.
There was no magic spell to be broken. The beast did not turn back into a prince and they did not live happily ever after in a lovely castle.
One by one, the children were sold to wealthy nobles as pets.
In little Antoinetta’s portrait, she insisted on holding a document. It says her real name, her parent’s names, where she’s from and who bought her.
Antoinetta, Madeleine, Francesca and Enrico never saw their parents again.
When Catherine’s childbearing years were done, Petrus and Catherine were allowed to retire as indentured servants. They were married for 40 years, and never stopped grieving the loss of their children.
When Petrus died in 1618, Catherine wept because he was denied a Christian burial. Animals didn’t get the final sacrament she was told. When she died 5 years later, she was also denied a Christian burial.
To this day, no one knows where their graves are.
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What a sad story. Such cruelty.