Europe’s Forgotten Werewolf Trials

Stories of witch trials throughout history are pretty well-known. During the witch hunts that took place across Europe, but especially in the areas of present-day Germany and France, thousands of innocent people were put on trial for witchcraft. Many of them were put to death. But while this was going on, trials of people accused of being another sort of supernatural creature were also occurring. People were put on trial for lycanthropy, the crime of being a werewolf, but these cases were often overshadowed by the more numerous witch trials.

The first known prosecution for werewolfery took place in Poligny, France in 1521. After a wolf attacked the town, three men wound up being arrested for being werewolves. After undergoing torture, one of the men, Pierre Bourgot, said they had made a deal with some men dressed all in black. The black-clad men gave them a potion that turned them into werewolves whenever they used it. As werewolves, they then roamed about eating children. The accused werewolves were put to death.

historyhustle.com

Another case occurred in the French town of Dole, when the town’s children began disappearing in 1573. Some of the bodies were found dismembered in the woods. When a man named Gilles Garnier was caught with a child’s body, he was tortured on the rack. He also confessed to receiving an ointment that turned him into a werewolf. He said he and his wife were eating the children because they couldn’t afford food, but it is unclear whether or not he confessed just to stop the torture. He was found guilty and burned alive.

One of the more gruesome fates to meet an accused werewolf happened to a German man named Peter Stubbe. Instead of a potion or ointment, Stubbe claimed he was given a magic belt by Satan himself. This belt allowed him to turn into a werewolf. He confessed to killing and eating 14 children, including his own son. He also confessed to killing pregnant women and ripping their fetuses from their bodies before eating them.

Needless to say, such a sensational crime demanded an equally sensational execution. First, his skin was ripped off with hot pincers. Then, all his limbs were broken and his head was cut off before he was burned. His daughter, who he had raped, was also burned to death for some reason. Stubbe’s head was put on display to warn people against doing business with Satan.

Of course, none of these people were werewolves, and most of them were probably not guilty of anything. Research into the trials has shown that many of them might have practiced folk magic, a practice that caught up many of the women accused of witchcraft, too. Some of the accused men were also accused for political reasons, such as converting to Protestantism in a Catholic region. And more than a few were possibly mentally ill. Once they were put under torture, they probably would have confessed to anything to make the pain end.

No one is sure just how many were accused of lycanthropy, though it was only a small fraction of the number accused of witchcraft. Some werewolf trials were also combined with accusations of witchcraft, further complicating the numbers. All we know is how brutally they were treated, which begs the question: who were the true animals of the werewolf trials?

Next Article
ADVERTISEMENT
  • Beef Jerky Causing Hallucinations

    A new study has found that people eating beef jerky could be more likely to end up with bipolar disorders. The cured meats like pepperoni and salami can develop mania which is the mental state that causes mood swings. In fact, they are also subject to causing confusion and a...

    Read More
  • Hire An Ambulance In Moscow To Beat Traffic

    If you are making enough money in Moscow and don’t want to get stuck in traffic jams then fear not there is a solution. Wealthy Russian residents are hiring ambulances with luxury interiors to speed them from destination to destination. These “Ambulance Taxis” are an easy way to beat the...

    Read More
  • The Wallet Lost In A Plane Crash Returned 30 Years Later

    Walking up high in the Andes, crossing over glaciers, would not be the sort of place you might find a lost wallet. Climbing up with the air thinning, Ricardo Pena saw some blue material frozen in the ice. It was a jacker, he quickly pulled it out of the snow and saw a wallet tumbled...

    Read More
  • The World’s Biggest Cave Could Fit A Skyscraper

    If you ever get a chance to visit Vietnam, make sure to plan a visit to the Son Doong Cave: the world’s biggest cave. Located near Laos to Vietnam border the Hang Son Doong even has a free-flowing internal subterranean river. In Vietnamese, if you translate the name then you would be left with “cave...

    Read More
  • Brain Scan Shows That Dogs Really Are Man’s Best Friend

    Humans and dogs have lived together for over 30,000 years, so it is only natural that they became best buddies. At least that is what most people refer to dogs as man’s best friend. Over the years we can definitely confirm that dogs have become more popular and even more beloved. In the United States,...

    Read More
  • Renaissance Books That Will Actually Kill You

    Reading is good for you, that is what your parents and the school has always taught you. There are, however, some books in the world that you will want to avoid at all costs. Recently some Renaissance manuscripts were discovered in a school library that was poisonous. In fact, you could die just by reading...

    Read More