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Uploaded on on Sep 5, 2021


In folklore, a werewolf is a human who can shapeshift into a wolf (or, more recently, a therianthropic hybrid wolf-like creature), either on purpose or as a result of a curse or affliction (often a bite or scratch from another werewolf), with the transformations taking place on the night of a full moon. Petronius (27″66) and Gervase of Tilbury (1150″1228) are early references supporting belief in this capacity or affliction, known as lycanthropy /laknrpi/.

Werewolves are a frequent idea in European folklore, with numerous variations that are linked by a shared development of a Christian interpretation of underlying European folklore throughout the medieval period. Werewolf ideas expanded to the New World with colonization in the early modern period. During the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern period, werewolfism evolved in tandem with witch belief. The trial of alleged werewolves began in what is now Switzerland (particularly the Valais and Vaud) in the early 15th century, expanded throughout Europe in the 16th century, peaked in the 17th century, and died out by the 18th.

Werewolf persecution and legend are an important element of the “witch-hunt” phenomena, albeit a minor one, with charges of lycanthropy appearing in just a tiny percentage of witchcraft trials. Charges of lycanthropy (transformation into a wolf) were mingled up with accusations of wolf-riding or wolf-charming throughout the early period. The case of Peter Stumpp (1589) sparked a surge in interest in and prosecution of alleged werewolves, particularly in French- and German-speaking Europe. The phenomena lasted the longest in Bavaria and Austria, with wolf-charmers being persecuted until far beyond 1650, with the latest occurrences occurring in Carinthia and Styria in the early 18th century.


Werewolf fiction has pre-modern roots in medieval romances (e.g., Bisclavret and Guillaume de Palerme) and evolved in the 18th century out of the “semi-fictional” chap book tradition. In the twentieth century, the trappings of horror literature became part of the horror and fantasy genre of modern popular culture.

Werewolf is derived from the Old English term werewolf, which is a combination of her “man” and wulf “wolf.” Although an early Middle High German werewolf is recorded in Burchard of Worms and Berthold of Regensburg, the sole Old High German witness comes in the shape of a given name, Weriuuolf. The phrase or notion does not appear in medieval German poetry or literature, and it only became popular in the 15th century. Old Frankish *wariwulf, Middle Latin gerulphus, Anglo-Norman Agarwal. The equivalent in Old Norse was Darfur, although due to the prominence of werewolves in Norse mythology, there were other words such as ulfhéinn (“one in wolf-skin,” referring still to the totemistic or cultic adoption of wolf-nature rather than the superstitious belief in actual shapeshifting). Kveldulf “evening-wolf” was also used in contemporary Scandinavian, possibly after the name of Kveldulf Bjalfason, a real berserker from the 9th century who appears in Icelandic sagas.

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