When Does Beauty and the Beast Take Place in History? (and Where)

When Does Beauty and the Beast Take Place in History?

Beauty and the Beast is one of the better-known Disney classics and Belle is one of the most admired Disney princesses. It is pretty clear from the introduction of the plot that this story is taking place in France, however, one thing that isn’t as clear is the time period in which it takes place. So, when in history is this story taking place?

The story of Belle and her beloved Beast takes place in France sometime between the late 1790s and the early 1880s.

In case you want to learn more about the history and its real-life origins make sure to read this article all the way through.

When does Beauty and the Beast take place in history?

When Does Beauty and the Beast Take Place in History?

Beauty and the Beast is another Disney animated movie that has a lot of conflicting evidence when it comes to the time period the story takes place.

When everything is considered the story could take place anytime between 1790 and the early years of the 1800s. 

The first clue we can use to determine the time period the story takes place in is the fact that the Beast is a royal. This helps us narrow the timeframe since for this to be possible, France needs to be a monarchy. This places the story before the French revolution occurred since after the events France overthrew the King.

This goes hand in hand with the fact that commonfolk we see throughout the movie don’t seem to bother by the king and his actions.

Another huge clue is the clothing. The way the Beast and Gaston are dressed suggests they are wearing tailcoats which were popular in the late 1790s. 

The girls shown in the movie are dressed in long skirts and the empire waist and an overall look that fits the fashion of the time period. The fact that there are no poofy sleeves or big skirts, aside from Belle’s yellow dress, is what was typical for women’s fashion of the time.

The architecture shown in the scenes, especially the castle has certain elements which point to the fact that the style of the Beast’s castle was either Rococo or Baroque. This is indicated by the over-the-top decorative elements of the architecture.

Considering the fact that the castle was built before the events of the movie take place and both Rococo and Baroque took place in the 17 and 18 centuries, this would make sense with the given time period.

Another clue comes from the movie in the form of the present inventions. The first and the most obvious one comes from the steam-powered machine. 

The machine existed since the early years of the 1700s which would seem to be an issue given the time frame we set for the movie, however, steam-powered machines were extremely rare upon their invention and could be found in factories exclusively.

The fact that Belle’s father has one would only make sense if the story takes place sometime closer to the end of the 1700s which would make sense with the time frame we set.  

This time period also works for the pistol Gaston owns. It is also a blunderbuss and they were in use from the beginning and until the middle of the 1800s.

The only conflicting piece of evidence regarding the time frame is actually a big one. During the performance of the song called Be Our Guest, we get a glimpse of the Eiffel tower.

This would not work with the time frame we already determined since it finished the construction in 1889 and that would be a long time after what we predicted for the story’s timeframe.

However, since this is the only piece of the movie that doesn’t fit the narrative we could chuck it to Disney not checking all of the facts well enough. 

When does Beauty and the Beast 2017 take place in history?

Although it may seem like the 2017 live-action movie would take place during the same time, we can’t actually decide when it takes place since all of the clues alluding towards the time period the movie takes place is extremely vague.

The Beauty and the Beast timeline is intentionally hazy, but there are suggestions that the plot takes place in the 1760s.

Luke Evans said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that his character, Gaston, fought off Portuguese marauders when he was 16 years old in 1740. If we say he’s in his mid-30s, which suits his character and the actor portraying him, the film would be set in 1760.

Aside from that, there are no other clues that would help us determine when the movie takes place.

Where does Beauty and the Beast take place in history?

When Does Beauty and the Beast Take Place in History?

The small, provincial town where Beauty lives with her father and siblings is one of the central locations in the plot. The picturesque French villages of Riquewihr and Ribeauvillé inspired Belle’s home town in Disney’s 1992 animated adaptation of the novel, while the town in the 2017 film adaptation of the novel was inspired by the French Medieval village of Conques.

The Beast’s castle, which is set in one of France’s wild and dense forests, is another important location; the castle is described as dark and gloomy on the outside but warmer and more inviting on the inside, which is a reflection of the Beast’s character.

The grand and elegant Renaissance castle Château de Chambord, situated in the Loire Valley, was the inspiration for the Beast’s castle in Disney’s classic.

What is Beauty and the Beast based on?

Some scholars believe that the tale of Beauty and the Beast is among literary works with the longest history. It’s possible that it’s based on the legend of Cupid and Psyche, which can be found in the Latin novel Metamorphoses. 

This myth, written by Apuleius in the second century CE, is one of the oldest stories, and many consider it to be the first-ever fairy tale.

Despite this, the most popular version and the one which Disney used for the animated interpretation is shortened tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont.

Beaumont reduced the number of characters in Beauty and the Beast and condensed the story to make it a classic fairy tale we know today. This story was first published in 1756 under the title La Belle et La Bête, and was described as a tale for the amusement of juvenile readers.  

The changes Beaumont made to Villeneuve’s story would beg to differ sing the story also delves into the social and political problems of the time in France.

The Beast is introduced to the reader as a young prince who had lost his father and was forced to fight to protect his kingdom.  When he was an adult, the queen left him in the possession of an evil fairy, who attempted to seduce him and transformed him into a beast when he resisted.

Belle’s tale shows that she is the daughter of a king and a good fairy, not a merchant’s daughter. Belle was put in the place of a merchant’s dead daughter to protect her from the wicked fairy who tried to kill her in order to marry her father, the king.

One interesting fact about the story is the fact that many historians believe that the original story is actually based on a real-life story of a man named Petrus Gonsalvus.

He suffered from a condition known as hypertrichosis. The illness is often referred to as the werewolf disease due to the way it affects the person suffering from it. 

The condition causes abnormal growth of hair on different areas of the body, but in this specific case, the illness affected Petrus’ entire body.  

King Henry II took him in after he was captured and decided to educate him and turn him into a gentleman because he recognized his calm demeanor when they met.

He received a nobleman’s education, which included teaching him to speak, read, and write three languages and his social status grew as a result of the royal court’s admiration.

After the king died, his wife decided to marry Petrus to a beautiful woman because she was curious if their children would be affected by his condition as well.

He met his wife Catherine, a daughter of a royal servant, on the day of their marriage ceremony. The two were married for almost 40 years and had seven children, four sufferings from their father’s condition. 

  • Hrvoje Milakovic is co-owner of Fiction Horizon and a big cinephile. Apart from that, he likes to read comics, play games and collect action figures. He has been featured on LifeWire, Yahoo and IMDb, to name a few.