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miercuri, 22 august 2012

Werewolves - Case Histories

In 1764 an area of France was experiencing a rash of murders among sheep herders who worked in the desolate mountain pastures. Rumors began to surface about the "loup-garou". Witnesses claimed to have seen a creature with short red fur and a pig-like snout. The king of France sent soldiers to the area to kill the creature. Once there, the soldiers encountered and shot the beast. 

The wounded beast retreated into the heavy brush, and for a few months the killings stopped. Later that year the killings started again. A hunting party was formed to try to rid the area of this terror. One of the hunters, Jean Chastel, loaded his gun with silver bullets. He caught sight of the beast and shot it twice. The party then took the dead beast down to the town for display. It was buried in the town and Jean's gun is still on display in a local church.

Claudia Gaillard, Werewolf of Burgundy

Claudia Gaillard was one of the hundreds of unfortunate souls brought to trial by the witch-finder Henry Boguet. According to witnesses, she was seen behind a bush assuming the form of a wolf without a tail. For this great sin, she was set to the torture. Regarding the tortures, the judge commented, "Common report was against her. No one ever saw her shed a single tear, whatever effort might be made to cause her to shed tears." Claudia was then burned to death at the stake.

The Gandillion Family


In the sixteenth century, there was a case of a whole family being accused of lycanthropy. The strange habits of the Gandillion Family were brought into the public eye after sister Pernette attacked two small children, killing one. Soon after, she was killed by an angry mob for her crime. A day later, her brother Pierre and her son Georges were both accused of witchcraft. They both admitted to being werewolves, transforming by using a magic salve. They were imprisoned, and were said to have acted like maniacs, their bodies covered with wounds and scratches, which suggested attacks by dogs and others during their late night excursions. Their inability to transform while in prison was rationalized by their inability to obtain the salve. Both Pierre and Georges, along with another sister named Antoinette were executed.

Gilles Garnier

In the sixteenth century town of Dole, a proclamation was publicly read in the town square. It's contents gave permission for the people to track down and kill the werewolf, that had been terrorizing the village.

While walking through the forest, a group of peasants heard the screams of a small child accompanied by the howling of a wolf. When they arrived they saw a wounded child fighting off a monstrous creature whom they later identified as Gilles Garner. When a ten year old boy disappeared in the vicinity of Garrier's home, he was arrested and confessed to being a werewolf. He was then burned at the stake.

Gilles Garnier

In the sixteenth century town of Dole, a proclamation was publicly read in the town square. It's contents gave permission for the people to track down and kill the werewolf, that had been terrorizing the village.

While walking through the forest, a group of peasants heard the screams of a small child accompanied by the howling of a wolf. When they arrived they saw a wounded child fighting off a monstrous creature whom they later identified as Gilles Garner. When a ten year old boy disappeared in the vicinity of Garrier's home, he was arrested and confessed to being a werewolf. He was then burned at the stake.

Michel Verdun, Werewolf of Poligny

In 1521, Jean Boin, Inquisitor of Besancon, tried Philibert Montot, Pierre Bourgot, and Michel Verdun for having made a pact with the devil and for lycanthropy. These men became known as the werewolves of Poligny.

These men came under suspicion when a traveler passing through the area was attacked by a wolf. While defending himself, he was able to wound the animal, forcing it to retreat. Following the trail of the injured creature, the man came upon a hut where he found a local resident, Michel Verdun, under the care of his wife, who was washing a wound on his body. Believing Verdun's injury to be a sympathetic wound, the man notified the authorities. Arrested and tortured, Verdun admitted that he was a shape-shifter; he also revealed the names of his two werewolf accomplices, as well as confessing to hideous crimes: diabolism, murder, and eating human flesh. The three men were promptly executed.

Raimbaud de Pinetum, Werewolf of Auvergne


In third century France, Raimbaud de Pinetum was disinherited by Ponce de Chapteuil, a noble. Pinetum, being a very active, trained military man, did not take well to his disinheritance. He began to prowl like a wild beast, wandering forests and byways. One night, smitten by a great dread, he lost his senses and turned into a wolf.

As a wolf with military training, Pinetum caused great havoc. He forced many farmers to abandon their homes; he mangled old people with his fangs; he gobbled up children. At long last he had one of his paws chopped off by a woodsman. At this amputation, he regained his human form.

He admitted in public that "he had decided to sacrifice one leg, because by amputating it he had got rid of his misfortune. For they say that amputation of a limb frees such men from their calamitous condition".

The Werewolf of Ansbach

In 1685 the Bavarian town of Ansbach was being terrorized by a large vicious wolf. The rumors were that the wolf was actually a werewolf whose identity was that of the town's dead mayor.When the wolf was killed, the people of Ansbach dressed the wolf's carcass to resemble their dead mayor. It was then put on display in the town square and later moved to a museum.

The Werewolf of Auvergne


In 1588, in a village in the Auvergne region, about two leagues from Apchon, there was a case of witchcraft which created a huge sensation.

A gentleman of that place being at his window, there passed a friend of his who had been out hunting, and who was then returning to his own house. The gentleman asked his friend what sport he had had; upon which the latter informed him that he had been attacked in the plain by a large and savage wolf, which he had shot at without wounding, and that he had then drawn out his hunting-knife and cut off the animal's fore-paw as it sprang upon his neck to devour him. The huntsman upon this put his hand into his bag to pull out the paw, but was shocked to find that it was a woman's hand, with a wedding ring on the finger. The gentleman immediately recognised his wife's ring, "which," says the indictment against her, "made him begin to suspect some evil of her." He immediately went in search of her, and found her sitting by the fire in the kitchen, with her arm hidden underneath her apron. He tore off her apron with great vehemence, and found that she had no hand, and that the stump was even then bleeding. She was given into custody, and burnt at Riom, in presence of some thousands of spectators.

The woman was handed over to the authorities who had her burned alive at the stake in Ryon, before a crown of several thousand spectators. Of course, the man's real motives for having his wife put to death, rendered inconsequential in light of demonological speculations and the general level of attendant hysteria over werewolves, were never investigated.

The Werewolf of Chalons


One of the worst-ever lycanthropes was the Werewolf of Chalons, otherwise known as the Demon Tailor. He was arraigned in Paris on 14 December 1598 on murder charges which were so appalling that the court ordered all documents of the hearing to be destroyed. Even his real name has become lost in history.

Burnt to death for his crimes, he was believed to decoy children of both sexes into his shop, and having abused them he would slice their throats and then powder and dress their bodies, jointing them as a butcher cuts up meat. In the twilight, under the shape of a wolf, he roamed the woods to leap out on stray passers-by and tear their throats to shreds. Barrels of bleached bones were found concealed in his cellars as well as other foul and hideous things. He died (it was said) unrepentant and blaspheming.

The Werewolf of Pavia


In 1541, in Pavia, Italy, a farmer...as a wolf, fell upon many men in the open country and tore them to pieces. After much trouble the maniac was caught, and he then assured his captors that the only difference which existed between himself and a natural wolf, was that in a true wolf the hair grew outward, whilst in him it struck inward. In order to put this assertion to the proof, the magistrates, themselves most certainly cruel and bloodthirsty wolves, cut off his arms and legs; the wretch died of the mutilation.

The Wolves of Paris

The Wolves of Paris were a man-eating wolf pack that entered Paris during the winter of 1450 through breaches in the city walls, killing forty people. A wolf named Courtaud, or "Bobtail", was the leader of the pack. Eventually the wolves were destroyed when Parisians, furious at the depredations, lured Courtaud and his pack into the heart of the city, where they were stoned and speared to death before the gates of Notre Dame Cathedral.

The Wolves of Périgord

The Wolves of Périgord were a pack of man-eating wolves that dominated the northwestern regions of Périgord, France, in February of 1766. According to official records, the wolves killed eighteen people and wounded many others before they were eliminated.

Louis XV took personal interest in the case, rewarding a man for his courage in saving a victim of the wolves with the promise of a cash reward and an exemption of militia service for his children. The man, a sexagenarian with a billhook, had rescued an armed marksman and his companions from marauding wolves after their gunpowder had been depleted. Records indicate that citizens of Périgord, known as Sieurs de Fayard, killed three wolves, and a professional hunter slew a fourth. A general hunt ended in the death of two wolves, male and female. The female was noted as having a double row of teeth in the jaw, suggesting the possibility of wolf-dog hybridizati

The Wolf of Sarlat


The Wolf of Sarlat attacked and wounded seventeen people in Sarlat, France, in June 1766. Unlike other wolves that had become man-eaters, it was notable in that it attacked only grown men, standing on its hind legs to get at the face and neck.

A burgher of Saint-Julien, Monsieur Dubex de Descamps, gathered a hunting party of one-hundred men and set out after the animal. In the pursuit the wolf turned on the hunters, injuring two of them. Dubex trapped the wolf in a meadow, dismounted, and shot it at point-blank range as it charged him. The wolf was roughly thirty inches at the withers and four feet, four inches in length. The huntsmen noted that its appearance combined some physical characteristics typical of foxes and greyhounds, suggesting hybridization.

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