Thiess of Livonia
Thiess of Livonia was an octogenarian man put on trial for heresy in 1692, in JÃ¼rgensburg, Swedish Livonia (modern day Latvia). Thiess was originally presented to a court as a potential witness to a church robbery, but he shocked the judges by confessing to being a former werewolf who had retired from the activity 10 years previous to the date. His story is fascinating and unique, for not only is Thiess by far the oldest werewolf on our list, but he also unusually claimed to have been a benevolent werewolf who acted in the best interests of the Christian community.
Thiess explained that he had been turned into a werewolf when, many years before, he was a beggar, and a ârascal’ drank him a toast, conferring the power upon him. He could do the same for others by toasting them. He and the other Livonian werewolves underwent transformation on 3 nights a year. They would wander the local farms, killing farm animals and roasting them over an open fire, seasoned with salt. Fortified by the meal, they would next travel âacross the sea’ to hell, where they would chase the devil and his witches and beat them with iron rods.
During their visit to hell, the werewolves would then take back all the grain and livestock stolen by the witches over the year. If they failed to do so, that year’s harvest would be poor. Werewolves, according to Thiess, were the servants of God, and had an important role to play in His plans for mankind. Unfortunately, Thiess also confessed that he practiced benevolent folk magic and didn’t attend church as he was too old to understand Lutheran doctrine. Not knowing what else to do with him, the judges had Thiess flogged and permanently banished for misleading Christians.