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Jean Grenier

During the early spring of the year 1603 they're spread through the St. Sever districts of Gascony in the extreme south-west of France, the department Landes, a veritable reign of terror. From a number of little hamlets and smaller villages young children had begun to mysteriously disappear off the fields and roads, and no trace could be discovered. In one instance even a babe was stolen from its cradle in a cottage whilst the mother had left it for a short space safe asleep, as she thought. People talked of wolves; others shook their heads and whispered something worse then wolves.

The consternation was at its height when the local magistrate advised the puisne Judge of the Barony de la Roche Chalais and de la Chatellenie that information had been laid before him by three witnesses, of whom one, a young girl named Marguerite Poirier, aged thirteen, of the outlaying hamlet of St-Paul, in the Parish of Esperons, swore that in full moon she had been attacked by a savage beast, much resembling a wolf. The girl stated that one midday whilst she was watching cattle, a wild beast with rufulous fur, not unlike a huge dog, rushed from the thicket and tore her kirtle with its sharp teeth. She only managed to save herself from being bitten owing to the fact she was armed with a stout iron; pointed staff with which she hardly warded herself. Moreover a lad of some thirteen or fourteen years old, Jean Grenier, was boasting that is was he who attacked Marguerite, as a wolf, and but for her stick he would have torn her limb from limb as he had already eaten three or four children.

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Jeanne Gaboriaut, aged eighteen, deposed that one day when she was tending cattle with Jean Grenier in her company (both being servants of a well-to-do farmer of Saint-Paul Pierre Combaut), he coarsely complimented her as a bonny lass and vowed he would marry her. When she asked whom his father was, he said: "I am a priest's bastard." She remarked that he was shallow and dirty, to which he replied: "Ah, that is because of the wolf's-skin I wear." He added that a man named Pierre Labourat had given him this pelt, and that when he donned it he coursed the woods and fields as a wolf. There were nine werewolves of his coven who went to the chase at the waning moon on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays, and who were wont to hunt during the twilight and just before dawn. He lusted for the flesh of small children, which were tender, plump and rare. When hungry, in wolf's shape, he often killed dogs and lapped their hot blood, which was not as delicious to his taste as that of young boys, from whose thighs he would bite great collops of fat luscious brawn.

These informations were lodged on May 29th, 1603. Jean Grenier was arrested and brought before the Higher Court on the following 2nd June, when he freely made a confession of the most abominable and hideous werewolfery, crimes which were in every particular proved to only be too true. He acknowledged that when the by-blow of a priest, he had lied. His father was Pierre Grenier, nicknamed "le Croquant", a day laborer of the hamlet of Saint-Antoine de Pizon, which is situate toward Coutras. He had run away from his father, who had beat him and whom he hated, and got his living as best he could by mendacity and cowherding. A youth named Pierre de la Tilhaire, who lived at Saint-Antoine, one evening took him into the depths of a wood and brought him into the presence of the lord of the Forest. This lord was a tall dark man, dressed all in black, riding a black charger. He saluted the two lads, and dismounting he kissed Jean, but his mouth was colder than ice. Presently he rode away down a distant glade. This was about three years ago, and on a second meeting he had given himself to the Lord of the Forest as his bond-slave. The Lord had marked both boys on each thigh with a kind of misericorde, or small stiletto. He had treated them well, and all swigged off a bumper of rich wine. The Lord had presented them each with a wolf-skin, which when they donned, they seem to have been transformed into wolves, and in this shape they scored the countryside. The Lord accompanied them, but in a much larger shape, (as he thought) as an ounce or a leopard. Before donning the skin they anointed themselves with an unguent. The Lord of the Forest retained the unguent and the wolf's pelt, but gave them to Jean whenever he asked for their use. He was bidden never to pare the nail of his left thumb, and it had grown thick and crooked like a claw. On more then one occasion he had seen several, of whom he recognized some four or five, with the Lord of the Forest, adoring him. Jean Grenier then related with great exactitude his tale of infantcide. On the first Friday of March 1603, he had killed and eaten a little girl, aged about three, named Guyonne. He had attacked the child of Jean Roullier, but there came to the rescue the boy's elder brother, who was armed and beat him away. Young Roulier was called as a witness and remembered the exact place, hour, and day when a wolf had flown out from a thicket at his little brother, and he had driven the animal off, being well weapon. It would be superfluous and even wearisome to chronicle the cases, one after another, in which the parents of the children who had been attacked by the wolf, boys and girls wounded and in many cases killed came forward and exactly corroborated the confession of Jean Grenier.

The court ordered Pierre Grenier, the father, who Jean had accused of sorcery and werewolfism, to be laid by the heals, and hue and cry was made for Pierre de la Tilhaire. The latter fled, and could not be caught, but Pierre Grenier, on being closely interrogated proved to be a simple rustic, one who clearly knew nothing of his son's crimes. He was released.

The inquiry was relegated to the Parliament of Bordeaux, and on the 6th of September 1503, President Dassis pronounced sentence upon the loup-garou. The utmost clemency was shown. Taken into consideration his youth and extreme ignorance Jean Grenier was ordered to be strictly enclosed in the Franciscan friary of S. Michael the Archangel, a house of the stricter Observance, at Bordeaux, being warned that any attempt to escape would be punished by the gallows without hope of remission or stay.

Pierre de Lancre, who has left us a very simple account of the whole case, visited the loup-garou at S. Michaels in the year of 1610, and found that he was a lean and gaunt lad, with small deep-set black eyes that glared fiercely. He had long sharp teeth, some of which were white like fangs, others black and broken, whilst his hands wee almost like claws with horrid crooked nails. He loved to hear and talk of wolves, often fell upon all fours, moving with extraordinary agility and seemingly with with greater ease than when he walked upright as a man. The fathers remarked that at first, at least, he rejected simple plain food for foulest offal. De Lancre calls attention to the fact that that Grenier or Garnier seems for some reason to be a name not infrequently borne by werewolves.