Gather 'round my figurative campfire, y'all, for a truly bone-chilling true story.
We've all learned about the witch trials that took place throughout the 1600s. But have you heard about people who were executed for being werewolves at that same time? For hunting children in the woods and eating them?
The werewolf trials occurred throughout Europe beginning in the 15th century and ending by the early 18th century. Accusations of "lycanthropy" — transforming into a werewolf — started in Switzerland and quickly spread to France, Germany, and the Balkans.
Fueled by everything from politics to fear of the devil to complete ignorance around mental illness, the trials accused some "werewolves" of eating people and lapping up their victims' warm blood.
It became such a prominent issue that, according to The White Devil, "In 1608, King Henry IV of France commissioned Pierre de Rosteguy de Lancre, a French judge, to wipe out witchcraft, ‘werewolfery’ and heresy.”
While some consider the werewolf trials to be the male equivalent of the witch trials, women and children, many of whom were mentally ill, were targeted too.
Now, let's talk about Peter Stubbe (spelled Stumpp or Stumpf in some texts), aka "the Werewolf of Bedburg." He was convicted of being a werewolf in 1589 in Germany, after allegedly killing (and eating) many children, women, and animals over 25 years.
A pamphlet circulating in London at the time claimed that, by the powers of a belt gifted to him by the devil, Stubbe became "strong and mighty, with eyes great and large, which in the night sparkeled like vnto brandes of fire, a mouth great and wide, with most sharpe and cruell teeth, A huge body, and mightye pawes..."
Another case? In 1598, a man by the name of Jacques Roulet, or "The Werewolf of Angers," was convicted of werewolfery after being found half-naked with bloodied hands near the corpse of a mutilated teenage boy.
Okay, one more case, because I'm quivering right now and I need your support: Around 1572, several children went missing in the town of Dole, France, and were later found ripped to pieces in the woods. The townspeople were tasked with hunting down the werewolf responsible.
So, yeah, the world may be an abominable mess right now, but at least you're not being executed for turning into a werewolf and causing avalanches with the devil?