The Werewolves of Poligny

There’s an old werewolf legend from 1521 that revolves around the werewolves of Poligny. These werewolves were first noticed when a traveler passing through the town of Poligny, France, became attacked by a wolf. Managing to fight the beast off, he also wounded him in the process. Of course, the trail of blood led right to the door of a home. Inside were a man and wife, and the wife was helping clean and repair a wound on the man’s arm. (It’s legend, remember.) Of course, the traveler became highly suspicious and reported the incident to the authorities.

Once the authorities arrested the man, they brought him in for questioning and tortured him until he gave up that his name was Michel Verdun, and that he was a shapeshifter. He also admitted to committing heinous crimes such as diabolism, murder, and eating human flesh. He also gave up the names of two other shape-shifters, Pierre Bourgot and Philibert Montot. When these two men were brought in for questioning, Pierre also admitted to being a shapeshifter. He also admitted to many other severe crimes, such as eating a nine-year-old girl after breaking her neck.

All three men were executed and burned and became known as the werewolves of Poligny, and they appear on many werewolf timelines. It’s funny how once again, a werewolf legend has sympathetic wounds leading to the arrest and capture of the evil wolf. Is it because legend is so tired that there’s nothing new to come up with?

Or is it because, back in a time such as the early 1500s, people were so highly suspicious of werewolves, and so misinformed, that they looked for any reason to point to someone as being a wolf. And undoubtedly, there were some that took advantage of the situation and maybe just reported their pesky neighbor who happened to be nursing an injured arm at the moment. I’m tending to think that it’s more this kind of thinking that leads to the whole “sympathetic wound” theory. I just don’t think that anyone who’s close enough to a werewolf that they can attack it, is going to get out alive, much less able to hunt down the human or wolf that’s wounded.

– Kate


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