Trials of werewolves in the Franche-Comte in the early modern period.
This thesis examines the judicial, intellectual, experiential and legendary background of
criminal proceedings against some thirty-six individuals accused of offences relating to
werewolves in Franche-Comté, a Francophone province of the Holy Roman Empire,
between 1521 and 1664.
Chapter One examines correlations between problems with natural wolves, social crises and
accusations against werewolves; legislation to control wolves and werewolves and definitions
of the latter resting on perceived abnormality in the former are also considered.
Chapter Two outlines medical, pharmacological and cultural interpretations offered during
and since the early modern period to account for the experiences confessed by werewolves;
these hypotheses are compared and contrasted with the data from trials in Franche-Comt&
Chapter Three traces the emergence and evolution of demonological theories of illusory
transformations, examining their interaction with the trials, their place in the wider context
of early modern speculation about the causes of extraordinary phenomena, and
considerations of culpability.
Chapter Four looks at the characteristics of inquisitorial procedure, the law of proof and the
rules of torture; four werewolves prosecuted by the Inquisition between 1521 and 1599 are
considered in detail, supplementing the fragmentary information available by comparison
with other contemporary witchcraft trials.
Chapter Five describes the trials conducted in the secular courts, stage by stage from arrest
to judgment, paying particular attention to the interplay between experience and legend, to
judges' evaluation of evidence and their many decisions to ignore accusations against
werewolves or to acquit on that charge because sufficient proof could not be found.
Comparisons with trials involving werewolves in the jurisdiction of the Parlement of Paris
would indicate that a major factor in the greater numbers of such prosecutions in Franche-
Comté was the Parlement of Dole's encouragement of the pursuit of werewolves and its
public endorsement of the beliefs on which accusations rested.