Back in the late Middle Ages and early Modern period, witches were being hunted down. It didn’t matter if it were true or not. If someone didn’t like their neighbor, they could be accused of witchcraft.
That started the witch trial time period. And like that wasn’t enough, werewolves emerged. And the werewolf trials begun and that is a horror story.
Werewolves Native from Switzerland
The Valais (now part of modern Switzerland) witch trials were often held. Though small in quantity still present. A part of those trials had to do with werewolves. The accusations were often known as wolf charming, werewolfery, wolf-riding and lycanthropy.
It was in the end of the sixteenth century that Peter Stumpp, a German farmer, was accused of actual witchcraft, werewolfery and cannibalism. The many accusations must have inspired more than one person. Because many were captivated by the persecution. It even brought the monstrous trials to its apogee.
The most hunted werewolves were known to either speak French or German. Maybe it was because France was a welcoming place for everyone. Known to have certain freedom others and a little looser than other places. Maybe Germany was still known for practicing paganism leading it to be an easy target? Who really knows what could’ve been the reason for favoring those two languages.
What is very overawe is the fact that it lasted from the early fifteenth century and only lost its popularity by the eighteenth century. That is three hundred years of most likely false accusations. People have been tortured and died in horrifying ways. Only for lies and beliefs that were being spread about them.
What has been documented reveals that places such as Bavaria and Austria were the two main villainous countries. Those were where the witch and werewolf hunt and trials lasted the longest. Amazingly enough, the accusations of wolf charming stuck until the late sixteenth hundreds. The final case believed to have been in the early seventeenth hundreds.
In nordic countries, near the Baltic gulf, practice of paganism was still very common. Those people would not believe in Satan and neither would they believe in witches. However, when the time would come where people would suspect werewolf activity. Those people, called Baltic, would refer to the witch trial model known to the religion practiced.
When Baltic people would accuse others of causing hurt or damage. It had to have been caused in the shape of a werewolf. Then the authorities would treat the case like a witch trial and proceed with the torture a witch would undergo.
Document records of the time stipulate that at least eighteen cases, between the sixteenth and seventeenth century, were werewolf trials.
The stories of those accused often referred to the werewolf itself as being “wolf skin”. When unused, they would hide it under a rock. Despite saying they were not turned voluntarily. Often revealing they were poisoned or offered something to eat. The people were still accused of committing evil which resulted in torture.
The ones being accused, did not reveal themselves to have been dealing with the devil. However, through torture, their words were being adjusted to what the authorities desired to hear. It resulted in them being executed.
The Netherlands were no exception to the mistreatment of werewolves. They associated it with witchcraft. For four years, between 1591-1595, many people were being accused of witchery. Those brought torment on people and even some committed suicide. Probably gentler than going under torture.
Statements Through Torture
There are cases with names of entire “packs” of werewolves and families. All accused of being werewolves or of both being werewolves and witches. It has you wonder how it started and why they would admit it.
Were they true werewolves. Were they admitting it all under torture. Maybe there was no way around being released as falsely accused. Then those people decided to give a good scare to the villagers.
Whatever the reasons were for those people to tell their story. Either true or not. I believe the authorities were torturing them needlessly. It was simply so they would say the words they wished to hear. Maybe not to feel guilty for having killed and tormented someone innocent.
Some were as young as twelve years old.
Follow next week for: The Case of Peter Stumpp!
The OCD Vampire