Modern historians researched into causes to explain the reports of werewolves throughout Europe over the centuries. Theories suggested have been hysteria, disease, mutation or medical condition. One argument that has been widely referred to is clinical lycanthropy where the person is affected with a delusion they could transform into a wolf or some other animal. Researchers believed the few cases where individuals were found guilt of murder, assault and cannibalism were suffering from this psychiatric syndrome. One account to always be mentioned when discussion clinical lycanthropy is Jean Grenier, which is the next installment in the series of historical werewolves.
In 1603, a rain of terror hit the small villages within the south-western parts of France. Children were mysteriously disappearing from farms and roads without a trace and in one account a baby reported taken from his cradle. Some villagers believed wolves to have taken the children while others whispered of something more supernatural within the woods. What many had feared became reality when a young girl was attacked by a wolf.
One day, Marguerite Poirer, a 13 year old girl was attending to livestock within the fields. A large wolf unlike any she had seen before came charging out of the forest at her. The creature attacked Marguerite, but she was able to defend herself with an iron stuff she carried. Eventually the wolf retread back into the woods as the girl ran back home. Marguerite reported the assault to local authorities along with mentioning of a boy, aged 14, named Jean Grenier who in past conversions with her on the enjoyment of killing as a wolf.
While being questioned by authorities, Jean bragged about how he assaulted Marguerite and could have killed her. As the investigation continued, the boy made claims to killing local children and eating their flesh. Jean Grenier was immediately arrested and brought to trail where he admitted to being a werewolf. In his confession, the boy described meeting a man named Pierre du Tilhaire that would introduce him to the Lord of the Forest. The Lord bestowed Jean with a wolf’s skin and ointment that would transfer him into a wolf. The youth roamed the forest for three years, killing off children and eating their flesh. Jean confessed to murdering dozens of children within the area.
In the trail, there were witnesses that given testimony to being attacked by a wolf along with threats made by the boy to devour them. The claims of witchcraft, the devil and werewolves during the proceeding were ignored by the judge. He accepted the testimony of two doctors that Jean Grenier was suffering from mental condition of lycanthropy than a supernatural one. In consideration of the boy’s age, intellectual problems and history, the judge was lenient and sentenced the youth to life within a monastery at Bordeaux. Years later, accounts were reported Jean stilled believed he was a wolf and continued to act as one.
There are many documented accounts people killed to what many feared by werewolves. Historians believe cases involving serial killers, murders, and cannibals, such as Jean Grenier maybe been affected with clinical lycanthropy in determining why many claimed to be these supernatural creature. This theory may explain some cases yet doesn’t account for the testimony of those to have witnessed the criminal’s transformation.
Steiger, Brad. The Werewolf Book. USA: Visible Ink Press. (2012).
Brown, Nathan. The Complete Idiot’s Guide Werewolves. USA: Peguin. (2009)