'The French Chronicle of London'

'The French Chronicle of London'
Eleanor of Provence

In this popular tabloid an anonymous writer portrays Eleanor of Aquitaine as the complete sadist. First, she strips the poor innocent Rosamond then she roasts her between two fires. To follow, she places two toads on Rosamond’s breasts to suck away, while she bleeds her slowly to death in the bath, just like Robin Hood a generation later.

The writer’s facts are a little mixed up for he mistakenly calls her Eleanor of Provence and makes her the wife of Henry III. This is understandable; it was actually written in Anglo-Norman in the 14th century - it is generally dated between 1259 and 1343. It finally was translated into English in 1844 when it became more widely known.

Such over-the-top stories would make their way into the religious wars of the late Middle Ages and the Reformation and into fairy tales. This is a 1512 woodcut of a werewolf by Lucas Cranach the Elder.


Then there is the story of Peter Stumpp (aka Peter Stübbe), known as the Werewolf of Bedburg, a town near Cologne. After supposedly confessing to being a werewolf, which involved killing and eating children and assorted other victims, he was tortured on the wheel and dismembered in 1589. The information comes from an English tabloid document from 1590 (a translation from German). It's hard not to think of him as a scapegoat in the horrific Protestant-Catholic conflicts going on at the time.