1589: Peter Stubbe, Sybil Stubbe and Katharina Trump

On Halloween in 1589, the “Werewolf of Bedburg” was put to a horrible death for a supposed slew of crimes committed in lupine form in the environs of the German city of Cologne.

Our knowledge of the strange case of Peter Stubbe comes primarily from a single surviving account, and with many of the potential supplementary sources lost to the ravages of time and war, interpretations are inevitably speculative.

Stubbe reportedly confessed under (or facing) torture to having practiced witchcraft and claimed to have received a magic belt from the infernal powers enabling him to transform into a wolf. The doomed man owned, during the quarter-century riot of sin that ensued this youthful acquisition, to rape, murder, cannibalism, incest, filicide, slaughtering livestock and keeping a succubus in his bed. (Authorities were unable to recover this potent belt, and sighed that Satan must have reclaimed it.)

For these crimes, he was broken on the wheel, beheaded, then burnt — the latter punishment shared with his daughter and his mistress, apparently implicated as accessories.

Was there a real wolf terrorizing the vicinity? Was Stubbe an actual murderer with a supernatural cover story? Was he nursing a genuine delusion of lycanthropy? Did he back the wrong faith as strife over Protestantism rent Germany? Or was he just unluckily caught up in an instance of demonic hysteria?

Whatever the individual circumstances of Stubbe’s death might have been, it occurred during a surge of panic over the venerable superstition of were-beasts and shapeshifters (particularly pronounced in France) coeval with Europe’s crises of religious and political authority on the eve of the Thirty Years’ War.

Yet this troubled period bore the germ of a modernity whose pervasive social changes would upend, among other things, the idea of a real werewolf. As the sixteenth century closed, both medical and theological understandings of “werewolfism” increasingly located it in the realm of the psychological instead of the supernatural.

Within a few years of Stubbe’s torture, werewolves had left the hands of magistrates for those of doctors … bound eventually for the pens of screenwriters with Halloween fare in mind.

39 thoughts on “1589: Peter Stubbe, Sybil Stubbe and Katharina Trump”

    1. May, Have you found anything out on the stubbe’s I am still interested and trying to locate as much as i can thank you
      cyndie stubbe keller

  1. hi i was just intrented on the psycology reasons why peter stummp kille all this victims, example did he had a bad childhood ??? ect………..

  2. Hi again to everyone. wrote a comment baqck on aug 6th 2008 about me being born a stubbe. i have no way of knowing if i am realated in the least bit to peter stubbe. He seemed to have been a horrible person. But i’m not the one to judge. only GOD does that. Again anyone who may have any info on peter stubbes relatives back in the 1550 to 1700’s please let me know thank you very much cyndie……
    the only records i can find right now are anno stubbe is my grandfather born july 26th 1873, his father jan jans stubbe born feb 5 1831 in nievw berrta, netherlands… his father jan klausefend stubbe born jan 28 1803 in wymeer, germany …. his father was klaus berends stubbe… germany no date born… thanks

  3. Hello,
    i am cyndie and i was born a stubbe so I am very interested in my amcestry. I have some names that date back to 1700 maybey earlier. they are all from Germany. I would be very interseted in any info anyone would have on any of the stubbe’s and peter stubbe. would love pictures also of places he lived if that is possible. thanks everyone

  4. Hello,
    I`m interesting in the Peter Subbe case. Is there any place in Bedburg connecting to him? Where is “path of the werewolf” in Bedburg?

  5. Hello,
    I live in Bedburg near Cologne!
    When you have the chance to walk the path of the werewolf by night it`s really scary. Well, when you have the money and the time to spend some time here, I wish you a scary night in Bedburg. 🙂
    You can also search Kaster, Broich, Erprath – these are the names of the small villages where Peter killed all people.

  6. Your research on Peter Stubbe is TOP CLASS!! I just finished reading it. FANTASTIC!!

    This particular article struck a chord with me, as we have the same phenomenon here in Africa re clynical lycanthropy i.e. delusional thinking that one can “shape shift” or change into an animal. As you maybe know, Africa is rife with witchdoctors, who are believed (and sometimes believe themselves) to shape-shift. It is a fascinating topic!!

    As regards to Peter Stubbe, a detailed study was done by Peter Kremer. You can find his mini-desertation here http://hometown.aol.de/bedburgerwerwolf/bedburgwerwolf.html. It is in German.

    Some interesting speculation on Peter Stubbe:

    1. He could have been suffering from lycanthropy
    2. He could have been a hirsutism sufferer (increasing and excessive hair growth), which could have given rise to the notion that he was a “werewolf”.
    3. He was from a middle-class order and possessed land, which others wanted and thus concocted a plot to deprive him of this land.

    Fascinating blog!! I am certainly going to be enjoying your research!!!

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