Tarrare

Dec 2017
262
Regnum Teutonicum
#1
I am curious how well is the story of Tarrare sourced. How many independent primary sources are there?

This is what I heard and red about him:
Tarrare was born in 1772 near Lyon and is not known, if Tarrare was his real name or a nick name. He couldn’t stop eating. With 17 years of age he could already eat a quarter of a cow in 24 hours. When his parents could not feed him any more, he went to Paris. On his way there he survived by begging, robbing and stealing. In Paris people noticed his huge apetite and he performed as food artist, e.g. he would eat a whole basket of apples donated by the spectators, but also nasty stuff. After one of his performances he started to have colic and people brought him to a doctor. After succesfull treatment he tried to eat the watch of the doctor.

When the French Revolution started he joined the mob. For a few years he found enough food and his fate is lost in darkness. He appeared again in historic light, when the french were starting to conquer the world in 1792 and joined the french army. At first his comrades covered for him and gave him parts of their rations. Soon he started to eat small animals like cats, including living ones. When he was half starved he was brought to the hospital of Prof. Percy. There was also someone who knew him from Paris. They decided to use him as study object. He got four rations of food instead of one, but that was not enough. He was constantly searching for food and ate garbage, cats and other animals. Once he ate all meals he was tasked to bring to 15 german prisoners of war, who were working there.

Then the french had the idea to use him as a spy for the war effort. They even tested it. He had to eat a box with papers. His price for the test was raw cattle liver and cattle lung. Eating all this impressed General de Beauharnais. His first mission was to transport the box with papers in his body to a captured french colonel behind german lines in Neustadt. The french general didn’t trust him yet, so the papers weren’t very important. Of course a person not able to speak german and crazily eating small animals alive including bones, fur and all was rather suspicious, so he was captured near Landau. Tarrare thinking there were important information in his stomach, didn’t say anything on the first day. After a day in prison and a wallop he told the german general Zoegli about the box in his body. He was then chained to a toilett until the box reemerged. The papers in the box only said, that the captured french colonel should note all prussian troop movements in the area. The germans were angry, because he had told them there were vital information in the box. They thought about executing him, but then he was just walloped again and brought to the vicinity of the french lines.

He returned to Percy, who tried to solve his problem and several cures. He again ate garbage and drank the blood of patients from bloodletting. Several times he was found to eat body parts of the deceased. Most people in the hospital wanted to get rid of him, but Percy kept him there. Until a 14 month old baby went missing.

The next we know, is that in 1798 he went to a hospital in Versailles. There he died as a result of tuberculosis. He himself thought the reason was, because he ate a golden or a silver fork two years ago.