Friday, August 17, 2012

Vendredi: Chthonian Histories

In 1521, Pierre Bourgot of Poligny, France confessed to being a werewolf. He further went on to tell, in grisly detail, of breaking the neck of a nine year old girl and eating her intestines. Though Bourgot's confession is often said to have been free of coercion, the fear of witches, werewolves and other dark denizens of the underworld was high in the area at the time. It is hard to imagine, given the climate, that Bourgot was not at least threatened with torture.

But the writings of the judge who tried Bourgot and two compatriot werewolves, might lead to the conclusion that these people were affected by some sort of delusion that actually made them think they were wolves in the flesh. Here is the most compelling passage of Judge Jean Boin's notes:

I have seen the accused go on all fours in their cells just as they did when they were in the fields; but they said that it was impossible for them to turn themselves into wolves, since they had no more ointment and they had lost the power of doing it by being imprisoned. I have further noticed that they were all scratched on the face, hands and legs as if by bush or bramble, and that one of them bore hardly any resemblance to a man and struck with horror those who looked upon him.

The judge was quick to adjure that Bourgot and his fellows in transformation were none other than true werewolves. The men were sentenced to death and burned at the stake.

Header: The Werewolf by Lucas Cranach c 1521 via Wikipedia


Timmy! said...

All the more reason to order you that Cimaruta pendant, Pauline...

Pauline said...

No worries; I'll just flash 'em Ronnie James Dios' Grandma's sign against the Evil Eye. Done and done!