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Gilles Garnier, Werewolf of Dole
[On the 8th of November, 1573] some peasants of Chastenoy were returning home from their work, through the forest, [when] the screams of a child and the deep baying of a wolf, attracted their notice, and on running in the direction whence the cries sounded, they found a little girl defending herself against a monstrous creature, which was attacking her tooth and nail, and had already wounded her severely in five places. As the peasants came up, the creature fled on all fours into the gloom of the thicket; it was so dark that it could not be identified with certainty, and whilst some affirmed that it was a wolf, others though they had recognized the features of the hermit.
This incident was followed by the disappearance of a boy, on November 15, and shortly after, by the murder of two girls and the slaying of a young boy. The children were presumed to have fallen victim to the loup-garou (Sidky 224).
In the following weeks, the frequency of werewolf's attacks seems to have increased, and the creature began seeking adult victims. Meanwhile, suspicions about the hermit were heightened. The authorities, alarmed at the number of werewolf attacks, gave permission for the residents of Franche-Comté to hunt the monster that scourged the countryside. The decree issued on December 3, 1573, reads as follows:
According to the advertisement made to the sovereign Court of the Parliament at Dole, that, in the territories of Espagny, Salvange, Courchapon, and the neighbouring villages, has often been seen and met, for some time past, a were-wolf, who, it is said, has already seized and carried off several little children, so that they have not been seen since, and since he had attacked and done injury in the country to some horsemen, who kept him off only with great difficulty and danger to their persons: the said Court, desiring to prevent any greater danger, has permitted, and does permit, those who are abiding or dwelling in the said places and others, notwithstanding all edicts concerning the chase [i.e., a ban on hunting] to assemble with pikes, halberts, arquebuses, and sticks, to chase and to pursue the said were-wolf in every place where they may find or seize him; to tie and to kill, without incurring any pains or penalties (Sidky 225).....
Shortly afterwards, the hermit Gilles Garnier was captured while attacking one of his many victims. Although he was in wolf form during the attack, he was recognized by peasants as the lycanthrope who had murdered several children.
Garnier was described as "a somber, ill-looking fellow, who walked in a stooping attitude, and whose pale face, livid complexion, and deep-set eyes under a pair of coarse and bushy eyebrows, which met across the forehead [one of the signs of werewolfism], were sufficient to repel any one from seeking his acquaintance. Gilles seldom spoke, and when he did it was in the broadest patois [vernacular] of his country. His long gray beard and retiring habits procured him the name the Hermit of St. Bonnot, though no one for a moment attributed to him any extraordinary amount of sanctity" (Sidky 225).
According to one account, during his interrogation, he claimed to have "killed a ten-year-old girl with his teeth and claws, stripped off her clothes and ate part of her" (Guiley 153-154). He took the rest of her flesh home to share with his wife (Sidky 225).
In another account, the indictment read against him by Henri Camus, doctor of laws and counsellor of the king,
was to the effect that he, Gilles Garnier, had seized upon a little girl, twelve years of age, whom he drew into a vineyard and there killed, partly with his teeth and partly with his hands, seeming like wolf's paws; that from thence he trailed her bleeding body along the ground with his teeth into the wood of La Serre, where he ate the greatest portion of her at one meal, and carried the remainder home to his wife; that upon another occasion, eight days before the festival of All Saints, he was seen to seize another child in his teeth, and would have devoured her had she not been rescued by the country people, and that the said child died a few days afterwards of the injuries he had inflicted; that fifteen days after the same festival of All Saints, being again in the shape of a wolf, he devoured a boy thirteen years of age, having previously torn off his leg and thigh with his teeth, and hid them away for his breakfast on the morrow. He was furthermore indicted for giving way to the same diabolical and unnatural propensities even in his shape of a man, and that he had strangled a boy in a wood with the intention of eating him, which crime he would have effected if he had not been seen by the neighbours and prevented (Mackay 501).
After fifty witnesses had testified against him, Garnier was put to the rack. He confessed to every charge against him and was sentenced to death.
Garnier's subsequent execution on January 8, 1574 (Sidky 227), offers proof that one does not need a silver bullet to kill a werewolf: he was burned to death at the stake.
When a mystery is too overpowering, one dare not disobey
Sep/19/2007, 4:47 pm
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