Sunday, 20 May 2012

Trials: The Werewolf of Angers, 1598

August 8th, 1589

In 1589 a trial was conducted against Jacques Roulet, a vagabond from Claude in the vicinity of Angers. His behaviour in custody showed that he was mentally ill and was epileptic. The tribunal took lycanthropy for the real reason for these aberrations of mind, thanks to which the accused avoided the death penalty.

Roulet’s confessions during the trial were contradictory and improbable. He claimed that his brother John and cousin Julien were involved in committing the crimes, however, it was then concluded that both of them were many miles away from him at the time. Roulet was accused of having been found in the form of a werewolf (by a soldier and three villagers) among bushes, half-naked, with untidy hair, hands covered in blood and fingernails sunken in the remains of human flesh. The mutilated body of a fifteen-year-old boy by the name of Cornier lay nearby. Roulet admitted to the murder of the lad and described in detail the victim as well as the circumstances of the murder.

On August 8th 1598 judge Pierre Herault was interrogating the prisoner:

Judge: What is your name and your craft?
Roulet: My name is Jacques Roulet, I am thirty-five years old, and am a poor beggar.
Judge: What are you accused of?
Roulet: Of theft; of blasphemy. My parents gave me a certain ointment, I don’t know its contents.
Judge: Did you become a wolf when you rubbed it in your skin?
Roulet: No, but thanks to it I killed and devoured son Cornier. I was a wolf.
Judge: Were you dressed as a wolf?
Roulet: I was dressed as I am now. My hands and face were bloodied, because I ate the boy’s flesh.
Judge: Did your hands and feet become the paws of a wolf?
Roulet: Yes!
Judge: Did you head become similar to that of a wolf, and your jaws become larger?
Roulet: I do not know what my head was like then; I was using my teeth. My head was like it is now. I injured and devoured many children. I also took part in a Sabbath.

Secular court sentenced Roulet to death. What is curious, however, is that he appealed to the Parliament in Paris, which exchanged his death sentence to two years of stay at the St. Germain des Pres asylum, so that he would be re-educated on the subject of religion “which he had forgotten about in his huge poverty”. […]

On the basis of: E. Petoia, Wampiry I wilkołaki. Źródła, historia, legendy od antyku do współczesności, Universitas, Kraków 2003. Own translation into English. Will update with the page details once I get my hands on the book itself, as I have left it in another place.

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