Wednesday, 17 February 2016

The Werewolf of Bedburg

I was on a bit of a werewolf kick today for some reason.
I watched a documentary on the history of werewolves (click here to watch it) and then I got interested in a case they mentioned, the case of the werewolf of Bedburg, and thought I'd do a quick write up of it.

Note: There is mentions of torture and death. 

Peter St├╝bbe, also referred to as Peter Stumpp, was a farmer in a rural village on the outskirts of Bedburg and was trialed as a werewolf in 16th century Europe.
Although he went by many aliases, Stumpp may have been a name given to him by locals, on account of his missing left hand. The people of the village claimed that his hand had been severed while he was in the form of a beast. In another account a band of men who had been hunting the beast claimed to have tracked it, only for it to vanish. They found Stumpp soon after, and accused him of being responsible for a string of murders of both cattle and human.

Stumpp was accused of murdering and cannibalizing women and children and while being stretched on the rack, confessed to the alleged crimes as well as practicing black magic since childhood, and making a deal with the Devil himself in exchange for a belt, which when worn, allowed him to shape-shift into a rampaging wolf-like beast. To transform back into human state, he would simply remove the belt.

Faced with the threat of brutal torture, he further confessed to the murder and cannibalization of 14 children, one of which was his own son whom he was said to consume the brains of, as well as the murder of two pregnant women whose unborn fetuses were torn from their wombs. He also confessed to having incestuous sexual relations with his own daughter, as well as another distant relative and a succubus.

He was put on a breaking wheel, or a Catherine wheel, which was used for capital punishment up until around the 18th and 19th century. The victim’s arms and legs would be tied to the spokes, and they would be beaten until all their limbs were broken, or until death by bludgeoning.
In Stumpp’s case, the flesh was ripped from his body with red hot pincers and his legs broken to ensure that he could not return from the dead to seek revenge. His head was cut off  and hung as a warning to the community, to never dabble in the occult.
Finally his remains were burned.

(Image of a woodcut print of Stumpp's torture and execution from Wikipedia)

His Daughter was also sentenced to death; she was flayed and strangled along with a distant relative, with whom Stumpp was romantically involved with.

The information on the case, as well as the woodcuts depicting the torture and execution of Stumpp, were translated into English by Clergyman Montague Summers.  Summers believed in the occult and witches and werewolves and was also responsible for the Malleus Maleficarum, a witch hunters guide from the 15th century.

The company of wolves  [X]
An eerie, nightmare of a film from 1984 about a girl who falls asleep and has haunting dreams of wolves. If you're not interested in watching the entire film, at least check out the transformation scene here [X]

Ginger Snaps (full movie) [X]
A movie from 2000 about two sisters who are both social outcasts who obsess over death. 
One of the sister gets bitten by a werewolf and receives the curse. 

Silver Bullet (Full movie) [X]
Based on "cycle of the werewolf" by Stephen King, starring Corey Haim. 

An american werewolf in London Transformation scene [X]

(Gif from the company of wolves) 

One little piece of theory I found on my travels was that werewolves were said to have an inverted pentagram hidden somewhere on their body. When human form, they were said to be hairy enough to hide the symbols, which would usually be on their chest, forehead or the palms of their hands. One theory of the pentagram on the hand, was that it served as a pointer, and that it was an indication of who the beast should kill next.

(Sources and references for this post : wikipedia and modernfarmer)

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