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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Werewolf of Bedburg

In the massive online game, One Tamriel [The Elder Scrolls Online], my little wood-elf character can transform into a werewolf, after a certain amount of time has lapsed, with the touch of 2 buttons on my PS4 controller.  (So, now you know my guilty video game addiction pleasure).   She becomes afflicted with "Lycanthropy" or in simpler terms, turned into a werewolf.  Lycanthropy is the  is the imaginary ability of a human being to transform into an animal like state, most commonly, as a werewolf.   The metamorphosis or transformation is called shape-shifting.
  
I can't help but wonder.... how many of us, after watching the series Charmed or movies such as Van Helsing or X-Men, have secretly wished they could shape-shift to vanquish or escape their enemies?  I'll admit that I have....



The belief of werewolves' existence was at it's height during the late 16th century, in France, which resulted in frequent trials, and mass hysteria like the famous European witch trials.   



Image source: yovisto
The most notorious historical account is not of a werewolf, but a man named Peter Stumpp who was also French.  He was a Rhenish farmer who was a serial killer and a cannibal, who became known as the "Werewolf of Bedburg".  Stumpf (or Stumpp) is known as other aliases, which include these names: Ubel Griswold, Abal Griswold, and Abil Griswold.  

There is reference to his last name as Stumpp or Stumpf that it may have been given because his left hand had been cut off, hence, leaving only a stump.  It was later alleged that the "werewolf" (accused) had its left forepaw cut off, then the same injury proved the guilt of the man.


Image source: viralnova
The source of Peter Stumpf's reign of terror only survive in 2 pamphlets, published in London in 1590, which, today, can be located at the British Museum, and the other one in the Lamberth Library.  They were apparently translated from a German pamphlet, and no known copies of the original pamphlet are known to have survived.  In 1920, these pamphlets were discovered by an occultist by the name of Montague Summers.  Apparently, the contents of the pamphlet(s) fully describe Peter Stumpf's horrific rampage of serial killing, (as told by through many statements from the locals who witnessed his crimes. 

Summers must  have been quite fascinated with the information, as he went on to create a reproduction of the information which contained woodcuts, in his own version of the stories, entitled, The Werewolf.


Stumpf was a lucrative farmer, during  the 1580's who was believed to be a widower, left with a daughter, Beele (a.k.a. Sybil) and a son, whose name is unknown. 

Before his trial, it is reported that he had an "intimate relationship with a distant relative named Katharina Trump, or "Trumpen" or "Trompen" - her name is not entirely known, nor accurately recorded.


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"During 1589, Stumpf had one of the most lurid and famous werewolf trials of history. After being stretched on a rack, and before further torture commenced, he confessed to having practiced black magic since he was twelve years old. He claimed that the Devil had given him a magical belt or girdle, which enabled him to metamorphose into "the likeness of a greedy, devouring wolf, strong and mighty, with eyes great and large, which in the night sparkled like fire, a mouth great and wide, with most sharp and cruel teeth, a huge body, and mighty paws." Removing the belt, he said, made him transform back to his human form.


google images - hamsteadhealth
For twenty-five years, Stumpf had allegedly been an "insatiable bloodsucker" who gorged on the flesh of goats, lambs, and sheep, as well as men, women, and children. Being threatened with torture he confessed to killing and eating fourteen children, two pregnant women, whose fetuses he ripped from their wombs and "ate their hearts panting hot and raw," which he later described as "dainty morsels."  One of the fourteen children was his own son, whose brain he was reported to have devoured.


gif image - pinterest
Image source: tumblr
Not only was Stumpf accused of being a serial murderer and cannibal, but also of having an incestuous relationship with his daughter, who was sentenced to die with him, and that he had coupled with a distant relative, which was also considered to be incestuous according to the law. In addition to this he confessed to having had intercourse with a succubus sent to him by the Devil.


Image credit: wickedhorrorblog

The execution of Stumpf, on October 31, 1589, and of his daughter and mistress is one of the most brutal on record: he was put to a wheel, where "flesh was torn from his body", in ten places, with red-hot pincers, followed by his arms and legs. Then his limbs were broken with the blunt side of an ax-head to prevent him from returning from the grave, before he was beheaded and his body burned on a pyre. His daughter and mistress had already been flayed and strangled and were burned along with Stumpf's body. As a warning against similar behavior, local authorities erected a pole with the torture wheel and the figure of a wolf on it, and at the very top they placed Peter Stumpf's severed head." 
- Source: wikipedia