The Werewolf of Auvergne
In 1588, in a village in the Auvergne region,
about two leagues from Apchon, there was a case of witchcraft
which created a huge sensation.
A gentleman of that place being at his
window, there passed a friend of his who had been out hunting,
and who was then returning to his own house. The gentleman
asked his friend what sport he had had; upon which the latter
informed him that he had been attacked in the plain by a large
and savage wolf, which he had shot at without wounding, and
that he had then drawn out his hunting-knife and cut off the
animal's fore-paw as it sprang upon his neck to devour him.
The huntsman upon this put his hand into his bag to pull out
the paw, but was shocked to find that it was a woman's hand,
with a wedding ring on the finger. The gentleman immediately
recognised his wife's ring, "which," says
the indictment against her, "made him begin to suspect some
evil of her." He immediately went in search of her, and
found her sitting by the fire in the kitchen, with her arm hidden
underneath her apron. He tore off her apron with great vehemence,
and found that she had no hand, and that the stump was even then
bleeding. She was given into custody, and burnt at Riom, in presence
of some thousands of spectators.
The woman was handed over to the authorities
who had her burned alive at the stake in Ryon, before a crown
of several thousand spectators. Of course, the man's real motives
for having his wife put to death, rendered inconsequential in
light of demonological speculations and the general level of
attendant hysteria over werewolves, were never investigated.