Cases of individual lycanthropy are remarkable enough, but what can one say when an entire family appears to be afflicted? That’s exactly what happened at the turn of the 16th century in France with the Gandillon family. Two little children were out picking berries one day when the girl was attacked by a small, dirty creature. Her brother came to her rescue, defending her with his knife before being dealt a fatal blow to the neck. Villagers were quick to find them and soon came across young Pernette Gandillon, splattered with blood and known to believe that she was a wolf, sometimes running around on all fours. She was torn to pieces by a crowd frenzied with horror.
Shortly after this, Pernette’s brother Pierre was accused of practicing witchcraft. The accusations against him claimed that he had led children to the Witches’ Sabbath and that he had received a salve from the Devil which allowed him to take the form of a wolf. He readily admitted to this, stating that he had killed both animals and humans while in this state. He effected a transformation back to his human form by rolling in dewy grass. Amazingly, his son also piped up with the assertion that he too had received the salve and had killed two goats while in his wolf form. This shared family characteristic did not stop there.
Indeed, Pierre’s other sister, Antoinette now revealed that the Devil had shown himself to her in the form of a black he-goat and that she had subsequently sold herself into his service. While she did not explicitly state that she too turned into a wolf, she did admit to having attended the Witches’ Sabbath, so the suspicion was there. While awaiting their punishment, Pierre and Georges could be seen running about their cells on all fours and howling. The sight was made worse by the intensive scarring to their faces, arms and legs, caused by fights with dogs while out on their hunting raids. Although they were convinced that they would transform, they were not seen to, possibly because of the absence of the salve.
Pierre, Georges and Antoinette were all sentenced to death and were ultimately hung, with their bodies being burnt afterwards.