In European history, documented cases exist of people convicted for committing murders as a werewolf. In their confessions, many described the source to the transformation as a belt, ointment, a potion or some other magical device when applied. Historians believe that such objects maybe have been either part of the delusion experienced in clinical lycanthropy or a hallucinogen altering reality. Even the testimony of witnessed transformations are seen as nothing more than fabrications, coached or hysteria. In the final installment of historical werewolves, we look into the account of Jacques Roulet if such creatures are supernatural or the delusions of the human mind?
In 1598, near Angers, France, two hunters came across the remains of a 15 year old boy that two wolves were feasting upon. When the men approached, the animals quickly retreated into the forest. The hunters gave chase and tracked the wolves through the woods where they stumbled upon a half-naked man shivering uncontrollably while hiding under some thicket. He was covered in blood with small pieces of flesh in hand. Immediately the hunters were suspicious of the man and brought him to the local authorities.
The man was identified to be a local beggar by the name of Jacque Roulet. In the investigation, the flesh in the man’s hand was found to be human and after questioning admitted to killing the 15 year old boy. Jacques was arrested and put on trial where he confessed to being a werewolf. In a statement, years ago his parents gave him a salve to drink bestowing upon him the ability to transform into a wolf. Jacques claimed his brother and cousin also received this power. He continued that the three of them killed and eaten the bodies like the 15 year boy.
The local authorities investigated the parents found them in good standing along with the brother and cousin. Mr. Roulet was convicted of murder, werewolfism along with cannibalism and sentenced to death. Jacques appealed to the Parliament of Paris and confined to a mental institution for two years after being judged not to be sound of mind.
Jacques Roulet is among the many documented cases where convicted murderers were alleged to be werewolves. There are debates whether these accounts were the result of delusions of the mentally unstable, drug induced hallucinations, or even fabrications forced to confess under torture. Historians and researchers doubt of any supernatural connections into such accounts, yet in this modern era sightings of werewolves continue throughout the globe.
Brown, Nathan. The Complete Idiot’s Guide Werewolves. USA: Peguin. (2009)
Baring, Sabine. The Book of Werewolves. London: Elder & Co. (1865) p.81