Jean Grenier was a thirteen-year-old Werewolf of Landes in southern France. The case of Jean Grenier became one of the most famous and most-discussed episodes of Lycantrophy in Europe. It began one spring afternoon with two girl shepherds. They came upon an odd-looking boy who was sitting on a log. His long RED hair was thick and matted, and he had an olive complexion. He was emaciated, but his eyes were bright and ﬁerce and he had prominent canine teeth that protruded over his lower lip when his mouth was closed. His hands were excessively large and powerful-looking. His ﬁngernails were black and pointed like the talons of a bird. His clothing was in tatters. He was given to bursts of maniacal laughter.
He introduced himself as Jean Grenier, the son of a priest, and he demanded to know which of the girls was prettier, for he would marry that one. He said he looked the way he did because sometimes he wore a wolf-skin. The wolf-skin had been given to him by a man named Pierre Labourant, who wore an IRON chain about his neck, which he gnawed, and who lived in a hellish place of gloom and ﬁre.
Grenier said that Labourant wrapped the wolf-skin cape around him every Monday, Friday, and Sunday, and for about an hour at dusk every other day. This transformed Grenier into a werewolf. He told the girls:
I have killed dogs and drunk their blood; but little girls taste better, their flesh is tender and sweet, their blood rich and warm. I have eaten many a maiden, as I have been on my raids together with my nine companions. I am a werewolf! Ah, ha! If the sun were to set I would soon fall on one of you and make a meal of you!
The girls ﬂed.
Meanwhile, a 13-year-old girl, Marguerite Poirier, who lived near the village of St. Antoine de Pizon, was well acquainted with Grenier, for she tended sheep with him. He often frightened her with his wild and gruesome stories of being a werewolf and killing and eating dogs and girls. He claimed to have eaten many girls, whose ﬂesh he preferred to dogs, and he described two incidents to Poirier: One girl he nearly devoured, and threw the remainder of her CORPSE to a wolf that arrived; the second girl he bit to death, lapped up her BLOOD and ate every bit of her except for her arms and shoulders.
One day Poirier had an experience that terriﬁed her so much that she abandoned her ﬂock and ran home. She was tending the sheep alone when she was suddenly attacked by a wild beast that tore her clothing with its fangs. She beat it off with her shepherd’s staff. It sat up on its hind legs like a begging dog, and gave her a look of utter rage. It resembled a wolf but was not a wolf: It was shorter and stouter, with a stumpy tail, small head, and red hair.
The villagers were alarmed at this report, for several little girls had gone missing. Poirier’s account and her descriptions of Grenier and his stories caused an investigation to be mounted. Grenier was arrested.
It was revealed that he was not the son of a priest, but was the son of a poor labourer in the same village as Poirier. Three months earlier, he had left home and did odd work and begged. He had taken several jobs tending sheep, but had been dismissed for neglecting his work.
Grenier willingly told the court about his werewolf escapades. He said that when he had been 11 years old, a neighbour had taken him deep into the woods and introduced him to Monsieur de la Forest, a black man who signed him with his nail and gave Grenier and his neighbour an OINTMENT and a wolf-skin. From then on, Grenier had run about as a werewolf.
He admitted attacking Poirier, intending to kill her, but she fended him off. He said he had killed only one dog, a white one, and had drunk its blood. He had wounded another dog, but was chased off by its owner. He described killing several children:
• an infant he dragged from its cradle and devoured and shared with a wolf
• a girl shepherd he tore with his teeth and nails, and ate
• a child by a stone bridge he assaulted
Grenier said that he went out hunting for children when commanded to do so by the Lord of the Forest, who was his master. When so ordered, he rubbed the ointment on his body and left his clothes in a thicket. He preferred to go out in the daytime when the MOON was waning, but sometimes went out as a wolf at night. The Lord of the Forest had forbidden him to bite the thumbnail of his left hand, and to always keep it in sight when he was in wolf form. This nail was longer and thicker than his other nails.
According to Grenier, his own father also had a wolfskin and ran with him on one occasion when he killed and ate a girl who was tending geese in the village of Grilland. His stepmother left because once she had seen him vomit the paws of a dog and ﬁngers of a child.
Many of the details given by Grenier in his testimony matched details of known attacks and wounds. However, the only witness who corroborated his assertion that he transformed himself into a wolf was Poirier.
When confronted with his father, Grenier wavered but then stuck to his story. There was no other evidence against the father, who was dismissed by the court.
The president of the court opined that Grenier was merely a feeble-brained imbecile who had hallucinations, and that he was not under any inﬂuence of the devil. The court sentenced Grenier to life imprisonment at a monastery at Bordeaux, where he was to receive religious instruction.
At the monastery, Grenier ran about on all fours and ate bloody and raw offal. Seven years into his conﬁnement he was visited by the noted demonologist Pierre Delancre. By then, both his appearance and his mind had greatly deteriorated. He told his complete story to Delancre, and insisted that the Lord of the Forest had visited him twice at the monastery but he had driven him off with a CROSS.
Soon after Delancre’s visit, Grenier died, at age 20. See also SHAPE-SHIFTING.
- Baring-Gould, Sabine. The Book of Werewolves. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1865.
- Otten, Charlotte F., ed. A Lycanthropy Reader: Werewolves in Western Culture. New York: Dorset Press, 1989.
Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters – Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley -a leading expert on the paranormal -Copyright © 2005 by Visionary Living, Inc.