Pieces: A Brief History of Werewolves
While there are many good Werewolf / Lycanthropy timelines on the 'net, this one is primarily focused on cases of actual physical transformations into a wolf in history and literature. There are also many good fictional works about werewolves, which this article does not deal with.
1550 BC - King Lycaon of Arcadia serves human flesh to the god Zeus and is transformed into a wolf for his crimes. The term 'Lycanthrope' is derived from this story. The Roman poet Ovid writes about this over 1500 years later (see below).
440 BC - In "Histories of Herodotus", the traveller Herodotus of Halicarnassus (484 BC - 425 BC) writes of the Neuri people, who transform into wolves once a year.
400 BC - A victorious Olympic boxer by the name of Damarchus, an Arcadian of Parrhasia, is said to have changed his shape into that of a wolf at the sacrifice of Lycaean (Wolf) Zeus, and nine years after he became a man again.
37 BC - Roman Poet Virgil (70 BC - 19 BC), in the "Eclogues", tells of the change of Moeris to the form of a wolf by the use of herbs.
2 BC - 8 AD - Roman poet Ovid (43 BC - 17 AD) writes "Metamorphoses" including verse about Lycaon, who is transformed into a wolf by the god Zeus as a punishment.
Pictures of the Werewolf Lycaon
60 AD Approx - "Satyricon", by Roman writer Petronius (27-66 AD), contains a fairly detailed account of a soldier who is a werewolf.
?200 ~ 299 - In France, Raimbaud de Pinetum, a trained military man, takes on the form of a wolf after being disinherited by Ponce de Chapteuil, a noble. In this form, he forces many farmers to abandon their homes, mangles old people with his fangs and gobbles up children. He returns to human form only after he has one of his paws chopped off by a woodsman.
970 - A man named Baianus is able to turn himself into a wolf through the arts of necromancy. "He chaunged himselfe into a Wolfe so often as he list, or into the likenesse of any other beaste, or in such sort that he could not be discerned of any man". Davies, R. Trevor. Four Centuries of Witch-Beliefs: With Special Reference to the Great Rebellion. New York: Benjamin Blom, Inc. 1972.
1101 - Death of Vseslav Bryachislavich, the most famous ruler of Polotsk, believed by many to be a werewolf.
1182 - Welsh historian Giraldus Cambrensis (1146 - 1223) encounters Irish werewolves who transform during the Yuletide feast. The werewolves were reportedly natives of Ossory, whose people had been cursed by St. Natalis for their wickedness.
1502? 1521? - The three werewolves of Poligny, Pierre Bourgot, Michel Verdung (or Udon), and Philibert Mentot are burnt at the stake for eating children, consorting with wild she-wolves, and transforming into wolf form via a magic salve.
1541 - In Pavia, Italy, a farmer in the form of a wolf is said to have torn many men in the open country to pieces. After being captured, he assures his captors that the only difference 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 cut off his arms and legs, and he dies from wounds.
1574 - Gilles Garnier, the Werewolf of Dole, is burnt at the stake. After fifty witnesses had testified against him, Garnier was put to the rack where he confessed to killing and eating several children in November and December of 1573. He was supposedly captured in the form of a wolf during an attack on one of his victims.
1578 - Jacques Rollet goes on trial in Paris. He was found guilty of being a loup-garou. While in the shape of the wolf, he had supposedly devoured a little boy. He was burnt alive in the Place de Greve.
1588 - The Werewolf of Auvergne is burned at the stake. She is discovered when a large wolf attacks a hunter, who escapes after cutting off the wolf's paw. Upon returning to his village, he produces the paw to show a friend, but is shocked to find it has transformed into the hand of a woman. Even more shocking is that the friend recognises his wife's wedding ring on the severed hand, and returnes home to find her hiding her bloody stump under her apron.
1589 - Peter Stubb is executed in Germany after supposedly terrorising the countryside near Cologne in the form of a Wolf. Under the pain of torture, Peter Stubb (also called Peter Stube, Peeter Stubbe, or Peter Stumpf) claimed the devil had given him a magical belt which enabled him to transform into a large powerful wolf. In this form, he allegedly committed many murders and other heinous crimes, some of which are described in "The Damnable Life and Death of Stubbe Peeter".
1590 - Michel Jaques confesses to becoming a wolf seven or eight times after anointing himself with an unguent given to him by the devil. Although he had tried (and failed) to kidnap children on two different occasions, he had never eaten any.
1598 - The "Werewolf of Châlons", known also as the "Demon Tailor", was arraigned in France on December 14, on murder charges. The unnamed man was reputed to have lured children into his tailor shop in Paris, where he did unspeakable things to them, murdered them and consumed the remains. When he could not lure victims that way, he roamed the woods, supposedly in a wolf's form, to find them, and he was alleged to have killed several dozen.
1602 - Michée Bauloz, along with Jeanne de la Pierre and Suzanne Prevost are condemned. Changed into wolves by the Devil's ointment, these women purportedly kidnapped a child and ate him at the Sabbat.
1603 - 13 year old Jean Grenier, the son of a poor laborer, insisted a neighbor had taken him into the woods and introduced him to M. de la Forest, a dark-skinned man who gave them both a salve and a wolf-skin cape. Thereafter, Grenier had found himself able to change into a wolf. Before the courts, he confessed to killing and eating children, that had indeed been missing in the area (St. Sever districts of Gascony in south-west France). The court believed him to be an imbecile who was hallucinating, and not responsible for his acts, so he was sent to perpetual imprisonment in a monastery at Bordeaux.
1623 - There are a series of court trials in which eighteen men and thirteen women are tried for lycanthropy. A woman named Ann testifies that she had been a werewolf for four years, and had killed a horse as well as some smaller animals. She had later hidden the wolf skin under a stone in the fields.
1692 - An 80-year-old man named Thiess is tried in Jurgenburg, Livonia. He confesses to being a werewolf, relating a fantastical tale of werewolves descending into hell to fight witches and recover grain from failed local crops. Judges sentence Thiess to ten lashes for acts of idolatry and superstitious beliefs.
1764 - 1767 - The Beast of Gévaudan terrorises the general area of the former province of Gévaudan, in the Margeride Mountains in south-central France. It was described as being a wolflike creature the size of a cow with a wide chest, a long sinuous tail with a lion-like tuft of fur on the end, and a greyhound-like head with large, protruding fangs. There was over 100 victims.
1852 - Traveling vendor Manuel Blanco Romasanta confesses to the murders of thirteen people. For "fun and profit", he had converted the body fat of his prey into luxurious soaps to be sold from his traveling vendor's stand. Romasanta was tried in Allariz and eluded capital punishment by professing he was a werewolf.
1865 - "The Book of Were-Wolves" is written by the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould (28 January 1834 – 2 January 1924), an English Victorian hagiographer, antiquarian, novelist and eclectic scholar, best-known for writing the hymn "Onward, Christian Soldiers".
1933 - Eccentric British Occult writer and clergyman Montague Summers (10 April, 1880 - 10 August, 1948) completes and publishes "The Werewolf". He is known primarily for his 1928 English translation of the medieval witch hunter's manual, the Malleus Maleficarum, as well as for several studies on witches, vampires, and werewolves, in all of which he professed to believe in.
1948 - Robert Eisler (1882-1949) delivers his lecture "Man into wolf: An anthropological interpretation of sadism, masochism, and lycanthropy" to the Psychiatric Section of the Royal Society of Medicine in London, England. In 1950 and 1969, a book of the same name was published, containing the speech, as well as a hundred pages of lengthy footnotes on the subject.
Histories of Herodotus - Herodotus
The Eclogues - Virgil
Metamorphoses - Ovid
Satyricon - Petronius
The Book Of Were-wolves: Being An Account Of A Terrible Superstition - Sabine Baring Gould
Werewolf - Montague Summers
Bibliography & Links:
Images and content copyright © Deane P. Lewis.|