Back in the 1500s mass werewolf hysteria spread throughout France like a plague. The entire country was deathly afraid of werewolves, so much so that hundreds upon hundreds of innocents, believed to be werewolves, were brutally executed.
During the spring of 1598 in the Franche-Comte region of France, two children were out picking fruit. The brother climbed the tree to pick some fruit up top and while he was up there a “tail-less” wolf came out and attacked his sister below. The boy jumped down and using his knife tried to defend his sister. The wolf, however, changed in front of him and become half man and half beast and knocked the knife away from the boy and gave him a fatal blow below the neck. The girl screamed and the nearby peasants heard and came running and managed to drive the wolf away. The boy was able to tell them some details about the wolf before he died.
First arming themselves, the people of the town went on a search for this wolf creature and while on their hunt they found a girl named Perenette Gandillion. Perenette was covered in blood and scratches sothe frightened and furious mob tore her to shreds.
The Gandillions lived near by and had already been suspected of witchcraft for some time, so this didn’t help matters. Perenette’s brother, Pierre was also said to be a werewolf and he that would kill anyone that came across his path. After being brutally tortured Pierre admitted to being a werewolf, saying that Satan granted him his shapeshifting powers. Pierre’s son, Georges, admitted to being a werewolf too, also after being tortured. He said that they had a magical salve that they rubbed on their skin that transformed them. The two of them were burned to death.
Then the Grand Justice of the Franche-Comte region, Henri Boquet, a lawyer who had spent his life studying witchcraft and demonology cases, got involved. He wrote a few books on witches, followers of Satan and various other supernatural evils – he made it his life’s work to destroy all those he believed to be tainted, executing over 600 supposed witches.
He used the Gandillion family as an example of what happens when people deal with Satan. He then set all his focus on werewolves, going through town after town in search of them. It got to the point that he was executing innocent children by forcing them to confess to being werewolves.
Thanks to Henri Boquet the werewolf hysteria grew in France and even more supposed werewolves were needlessly executed, and to make matters even worse, the clergy and the churches backed him up.