The Real-Life Story Of Peter Stumpp Was The Origin Of Western Werewolf Myths

Men turning into wolves have appeared in stories since before antiquity, but it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that the term “werewolf” was used to describe loners who dabbled in lycanthropy.

Perhaps the most defining account of a werewolf was the real-life story of Peter Stumpp, who (after A LOT of torture) admitted to having the ability to turn into a wolf, devouring animals and people alike, and even having sexual relations with his daughter. Amazingly though, the brutality of his execution overshadowed any of the heinous acts he admitted to.

In 1589, a large wolf-like beast attacked the village of Epprath in Western Germany. The beast escaped, but not before villagers cut off one of his paws.

A wealthy farmer named Peter Stumpp was brought forth to the courts, carrying damning evidence that led the village to believe HE was the beast — Stumpp had an actual stump for a hand…and on the same side that the beast had his removed.

Sources say Stumpp’s real name might have actually been Stubbe, but because he had a stump for a hand, easy nickname I guess?

Before Stumpp’s trial, his body was painfully stretched out on a rack. To prevent more torture, he admitted that the devil had given him a belt that transformed him into a “devouring wolf” with eyes that “in the night sparkled like fire.”

Pretty poetic for a guy desperately trying not to get tortured again.

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In addition to admitting to the general werewolf act of eating people and infants from their mother’s womb, he also confessed to devouring his son and having a sexual relationship with both his daughter and a distant relative.

In one of the most brutal executions in history, Stumpp was tied to a wheel where men ripped flesh off of him with red-hot pincers. His limbs were beaten until they broke. Finally, they beheaded him before setting him on a pyre along with his daughter and mistress.

The story of Peter Stumpp mirrors the infamous Salem witch trials in that the man probably wouldn’t have admitted to these heinous acts if he wasn’t subjected to torture. This weird obsession of a scapegoat permeated culture in the past, but has it really gone away?

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