Category Archives: Death

Crime Curiosities Death Murder Vice Witchcraft

In his Wolvish shape he would run among them

This curious account of a Werewolf comes from Germany in the 1590s. With a ravenous appetite for lust and murder, Stubbe Peeter eventually meets his own rather gory end.

In the townes of Cperadt and Bedbur neer unto Collin in high Germany, there was continually brought up and nourished one Stubbe Peeter, who from his youth was greatly inclined to evill, and the practising of wicked Artes even from twelve years of age till twentye, and so forwardes till his dying daye, insomuch that surfeiting in the Damnable desire of magick, necromancye, and sorcery, acquainting him selfe with many infernall spirites and fiends. The Devill who saw him a fit instrument to perform mischeefe as a wicked fiend pleased with the desire of wrong and destruction, gave unto him a girdle, which being put about him, he was straight transformed into the likeness of a greedy devouring Wolf, strong and mighty, with eyes great and large, which in the night sparkled like unto brandes of fire, a mouth great and wide, with most sharpe and cruell teeth, A huge body, and mightye pawes: And no sooner should he put off the same girdle, but presently he should appeare in his former shape, according to the proportion of a man, as if he had never beene changed.

Stubbe Peeter hearwith was exceedingly well pleased, and the shape fitted his fancye and agreed best with his nature. If any person displeased him, he would incontinent thirst for revenge, and no sooner should they or any of theirs walke abroad in the fields or about the Cittie, but in the shape of a Woolfe he would presentlye encounter them, and never rest till he had pluckt out their throates and teare their joyntes a sunder: And after he had gotten a taste hereof, he tooke such pleasure and delight in shedding of blood, that he would night and day walke the Fields, and work extreme cruelties. And sundry times he would go through the Streetes of Collin, Bedbur, and Cperadt, in comely habit, and very civilly as one well knowen to all the inhabitants therabout, & oftentimes was he saluted of those whose friendes and children he had buchered, though nothing suspected for the same.

It came to passe that as he walked abroad in the fieldes, if he chanced to spye a companye of maydens playing together, or else a milking of their Kine, in his Woolvishe shape he would incontinent runne among them, and while the rest escaped by flight, he would be sure to laye holde of one, and after his filthy lust fulfilled, he would murder her presentlye, beside, if he had liked or knowne any of them, her he would pursue, whether she were before or behinde, and take her from the rest, for such was his swiftnes of foot while he continued a woolf: that he would outrunne the swiftest greyhound in that Countrye: and so muche he had practised this wickednes, that the whole Province was feared by the cruelty of this bloody and devouring Woolfe. Thus continuing his divelishe and damnable deedes within the compass of fewe yeares, he had murdered thirteene young Children, and two goodly young women bigge with Child, tearing the Children out of their wombes, in most bloody and savage sorte, and after eate their hartes panting hotte and rawe, which he accounted dainty morsells & best agreeing to his Appetite.

He had at that time living a faire young Damsell, his Daughter, after whom he also lusted most unnaturallye, and cruellye committed most wicked inceste with her. This daughter he begot when he was not altogether so wickedlye given, who was called by the name of Stubbe Bell, whose beautye and good grace was such as deserved commendations of all those that knewe her: And such was his inordinate lust and filthye desire toward her, that he begat a Childe by her, dayly using her as his Concubine, but as an insaciate and filthy beast, given over to work evil. With greedines he also lay with his owne Sister, frequenting her company long time even according as the wickednes of his hart lead him. Moreover being on a time sent for to a Gossip of his there to make merry and good cheere, ere he thence departed he so won the woman by his faire and flattering speech, and so much prevailed, yet ere he departed the house: he lay by her, and ever after had her companye at his command. This woman was Katherine Trompin, a woman of tall and comely stature of exceeding good favour and one that was well esteemed among her neighbours. But his lewde and inordinate lust being not satisfied with the company of many Concubines, nor his wicked fancye contented with the beauty of any woman, at length the devill sent unto him a wicked spirit in the similitude and likenes of a woman, so faire of face and comelye of personage, that she resembled rather some heavenly creature, so farre her beauty exceeded the chiefest sorte of women, and with her as with his harts delight, he kept company the space of seven yeeres, though in the end she proved and was found indeed no other then a she Devil

Long time he continued this wilde and villanous life, sometime in the likenes of a Woolfe, sometime in the habit of a man, sometime in the Townes and Citties, and sometimes in the Woods and thickettes to them adjoyning. Thus this damnable Stubbe Peeter lived the tearme of five and twenty yeeres, unsuspected to be Author of so many cruell and unnaturall murders, in which time he destroyed and spoyled an unknowen number of Men, Women, and Children, sheepe, Lambes, and Goates: and other Catttell. The inhabitantes of Collin, Bedbur and Cperadt, seeing themselves so greevously endangered, plagued, and molested by this greedy & cruel Woolfe, none durst travell to or from those places without good provision of defence. Oftentimes the inhabitants found the Armes & legges of dead Men, Women, and Children, scattered up and down the fields to their great greefe and vexation of heart, knowing the same to be done by that strange and cruell Woolfe. They daylye continued and sought to intrap him. In the end it pleased God that they should espye him in his woolvishe likeness, and moste circumspectlye set their Dogges upon him. He, seeing no way to escape the imminent danger, presently slipt his girdle from about him, whereby the shape of a Woolfe cleane avoided, he appeared presently in his true shape & likeness, having in his hand a staffe as one walking toward the Cittie. But the hunters came unto him, and brought him to his owne house, and finding him to be the man indeede, and no delusion or phantasticall motion, they had him before the Magistrates to be examined.

Thus being apprehended, he was shortly after put to the racke in the Towne of Bedbur, but fearing the torture, he volluntarilye confessed his whole life, and made knowen the villanies which he had committed for the space of 25 yeares, also he confessed how by Sorcery he procured of the Devill a Girdle, which beeing put on, he forthwith became a Woolfe. After he had some space beene imprisoned, the majestrates found out through due examination of the matter, that his daughter Stubbe Bell and his Gossip Katherine Trompin, were both accessory to divers murders committed, who for the same were arraigned, and with Stubbe Peeter condemned, and their severall Judgementes pronounced the 28 of October 1589· in this manner, that is to saye: Stubbe Peeter as principall mallefactor, was judged first to have his body laide on a wheele, and with red hotte burning pincers in ten several places to have the flesh pulled off from the bones, after that, his legges and Armes to be broken with a woodden Hatchet, afterward to have his head strook from his body, then to have his carkasse burned to Ashes.

Also his Daughter and his Gossip were judged to be burned quicke to Ashes, the same time and day with the carkasse of the aforesaid Stubbe Peeter, and on the 31 of the same moneth, they suffered death accordingly in the town of Bedbur in the presence of many peeres & princes of Germany.

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved
Death Propaganda

These Papist Priests Were Drawne Along

These fragments come from a popular ballad on the death of two Jesuit priests. The death of traitors in England was particularly gristly and involved hanging, drawing, and quartering. A description and explanation can be found here.  The combination of such horrifying subject matter with a catchy and memorable melody – this ballad was to be sung to the tune of ‘A Rich Merchant Man’ – reveals the fascinating way in which death was regarded in early modern England. Everybody would have had access to ballads such as this because they were mass produced and very cheap. A source of entertainment to many, but also a powerful means by which the government could demonise Catholicism and warn of the dangers of Popish practises.

A Warning to All Priests and Jesuits

Then Jesuites, Priests, and Fryers,
to Rome make haste away,
Least that the Gallowes doe prove your hires
if you in England stay.

The names of these two Priests
like Traytors Judg’d to die,
Shall herein briefely be exprest,
to you immediately.

They that our Lawes contemn’d,
the one call’d Albert Roe,
And Father Renals being condemn’d,
above seven yeares agoe.

From Newgate they were sent
like birds both of one feather.
And lovingly up Holborne went
both on one fledge together.

Fast bound and guarded strong,
unto their dying place,
These Papist Priests were drawne along
to suffer in disgrace.

Then hang’d till almost dead,
and so immediately,
Were both cut downe and quartered,
as Traitors use to die.

Then Jesuites Priests and Fryers,
to Rome make haste away,
Least that the Gallowes prove your bires,
if you in England stay.

Their members and their hearts,
were all in fire burn’d,
Their guts, and all their inward parts,
were straight to ashes turn’d.

Thus with a shamefull end,
they finisht up their dayes,
So must the rest which dares offend,
in such presumptuous waies.

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved
Curiosities Death Women

No childe rightly shaped

These fragments from 1609 come from a disturbing account of the birth of a child in Kent.

It is not unknown to most part of the kingdome, that Sandwich is one of the principall townes in Kent, bordering upon the Sea, unto which towne now standeth a very olde house, being the dwelling place of one Goodwife Wattes, whose husband is a shepheard, a very honest poore old woman, well-beloved of the country, and of an honest conversation amongst her neighbours.

Upon the thirty of July last past, 1609, being Saturday, there came unto this old poore womans house, a certaine wandring young woman, great with child, handsome, and decently apparelled, and being not well able to travell further, by reason of her great belly, desired succour of this kind-hearted old woman Mother Watts.  Mother Watts not onely granted her houseroome and lodging for that night, but also sucker, helpe and furtherance at the painefull hour of her deliverie. This bigge belly wandring young woman, having thus by her humble intreaties obtained lodging, the very first night of her lying there, fell into a most strange labor, where her wombe was tormented with such greevous paine that it much affrighted the old woman Mother Watts, and she immediately called in her neighbours, being women all of a willing forwardness in such a business. But not any of them knew how to shift in such a dangerous case, wherefore amazedly they looked one of another, til such time as one goodwife Hatch, the younger, was sent for, being a Midwife of a milde nature, and of good experience, who at her comming thither, so cunningly shewed her skill, that with the helping hand of God, this distressed young woman was speedily delivered.

But her wombe yeelded forth into the world a kind of creature, but no childe rightly shaped, for it was most strange & dreadful to behold, and drove the Midwife goodwife Hatch and the rest of the company into a great fright, even readie to sinke downe dead to the ground with feare.  For it had no head, nor any signe or proportion thereof, there onely appeared as it were two faces, the one visibly to be seene, directly placed in the breast, where it had a nose, and a mouth, and two holes for two eyes, but no eyes, all which seemed ugly, and most horrible to be seene, and much offencive to humane nature to be looked upon. The other face was not perfectly to be seene, but retained a proportion of flesh in a great round lump, like unto a face quite disfigured, and this was all of that which could be discerned.  The face, mouth, eyes, nose, and breast, being thus framed together like a deformed peece of flesh seemed as it were a chaos of confusion, a mixture of things without any discription, from the breast downeward to the bowels it was smooth and straight, all the other parts of the body retained a most strange deformitie, for the armes grew out at the toppe of the shoulders, having neither joynt nor elbow, but round and fleshy, at the end of which armes grew two hands, with fifteene fingers, the one hand had eight, the other seaven, of a contrarie shape, not like to the naturall fingers of new borne children: also it had foureteene toes, of each foote seaven, beeing as it were like geese or ducks feete.

They were all strucken almost sencelesse: the Roome also where this childe lay, smelled so earthly (for it was dead borne) that not any of them all could hardly endure the scent thereof.  Among other remembrances, this is to be observed for a thing of strangenesse, that the woman her selfe confessed, that this monster, a little time before her delivery, moved in her belly not like unto other naturall children, but as shee had beene possessed with an evill spirit, which put her to extreame torments.  Not many hours passed, before the reports of this strange birth was bruited abroade, and the eares of the inhabitants thereabout dwelling, so filled with the newes thereof, that they came in multitudes to behold it, in such aboundance that it was wonderfull.

But now againe to our purpose. On Sunday beeing the last of July, this new delivered woman, in reason seeming to bee weake and sicklie, lying in her bed, desired the olde woman, her hostess Mother Wattes, to goe into the towne, & to buy such necessaries as was needefull for a weake woman in child-bed to have, giving her money for the same purpose, the which mother Watts most willingly did. But before Mother Watts could returne from Sandwich, which was in lesse time then two houres, she had got up out of her bed, put on all her cloathes, and was gone from the house, leaving behinde her eight shillings, lying uppon the Table, the child being dead, layde by it, with an intent that the money should pay for the burial of the same.  All which mother Watts her returne, beeing found in this order, seemed to bee an accident most strange, whereupon she immediately called in her neighbors, where with a generall consent, they certified the same unto the Magistrates, who upon good consideration together, with the advice of a reverend and learned Minister, of Saint Clements church in Sandwitch, one M. Simons, who verie charitably gave it buryall, & withall, giving many godly admonitions to the people, concerning this most strange birth.

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved

Death Execution Monarchy

An example of terror

Today’s fragments come from both an account of the murder of Henry IV of France in Paris in 1610, and from an account of the terrible execution which subsequently met his assassin.  The torture of Ravaillac is described in graphic detail and shouldn’t be read by anyone squeamish, or about to eat lunch.

Henry King of France and Navarre, beeing at Paris about three of the clocke in the after noone, intended to goe to his Arsenall: tooke his Caroch, and as a Prince which lived without feare or suspition of his people, passed through the City, accompanied with fewe of his Nobilitie; without taking for his better assurance, either Archers, or any of his usuall Gard.  But mischiefe, or rather our sinnes procured, that an accursed and execrable assassin named Francis Ravaillac, borne in Angouleme, approached his person, not farre from S.Innocents; where seeing his Majesties Caroche stayed by a Cart, which met and stopped their passage, taking opportunity, assaulted with most hellish fury this good King, with a long knife, made of purpose; with which hee gave him two wounds in the left side, the first was given nigh the shoulder, which entered not farre, but onely rased the skinne: the second was mortall, the blowe entering betwixt the first and sixt rib, cut asunder the veine leading to the heart; and the wound was so deepe, that it reached into the Cava Vena, which was pierced with the point of the knife. The Prince finding himself wounded to death, lost upon the instant his speech, by reason of the aboundance of bloud, which issued out of his mouth, therefore they turned the caroch to the Louv’re, where he was no sooner arrived but hee rendred his soule into the hands of Almighty God, testifying with his eyes and hands lifted up to heaven, that hee died a true Christian and good Catholique.’

Upon Friday 25. of May, Francois Raviallac was brought out of the prison for the palace with a lighted Torch in one hand, and the knife (wherewith he killed the King) chained to the other hand, to openly be seene.  After this he was placed standing upright in a dung-cart, and so from thence conducted to the Capitall church in Paris, and after this to the place of execution, a spatious streete about the middle of Paris, where there was builded a very substantial scaffold. This here following was the manner of his death: an example of terror made knowne to the world to convert all bloody-minded Traytors from the like enterprise.

The hand with the knife chained to it and halfe the arme was put into a flaming furnace, wherein the knife, his right hande, and halfe the arme was in a most terrible manner consumed. After this, with Tongues and Iron Pincers, made extreme hot in the furnace, the Executioners pinched and seared his breasts, arms, thighs and calves and other fleshy partes, cutting out Collopes of flesh and burning them before his face. They poured scalding Oyle, Pitch, and Brimstone onto his wounds. They put upon his navel a rundle of clay with a hole in the middle and into the same hole they poured moulten lead till he cryed out with most horrible roares. Then they caused foure strong horses to be brought to teare his body in pieces and to separate his limbs into four quarters. But so strong was his flesh and joints that of a long time these four horses could not dismember him. At last they were constrained to cut the flesh under his armes and thighes with a sharp razor by which meanes his body was at last torn to pieces. The rage of the people grew so violent that they snatched the dismembered carcasse out of the executioners hands. Some beate it, others cut it in pieces with knives, until there was nothing left but bones, which were brought to the place of execution and there burned to cinders. The ashes wereof were scattered into the wind, as being thought unworthie of the earths buriall.

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved


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