Schloss Moyland in Bedburg-Hau near Kleve is one of the most important neo-Gothic buildings in Nordrhein-Westfalen, Northwestern Germany. Its name derives from the Dutch word Mooiland = “beautiful country”, which was probably coined by Dutch workers, whom the owner Jacob van den Eger had brought in to drain the surrounding wetlands. Today it houses a museum containing an extensive collection of modern art and is a popular tourist destination.
In the late 1500’s, in Bedburg, Germany, people rarely ventured forth from the safety of their homes after twilight. The fear of being taken by some unknown being, or ripped apart by a ravenous monster were at the forefront of their minds. In that age, a legend was born that has survived countless generations; some 500 years. This would be one of the first well documented werewolf legends in history of a man-beast first preying on helpless children, before eventually turning his attention to larger victims; ultimately raping, killing and devouring them. The people of Bedburg had no idea the man responsible was, in fact, one of their own.
His name was Peter Stubbe. Peter’s vicious murders and feeding frenzy continued as children disappeared from the village at an alarming rate. Bodies of the victims were sometimes found ripped into pieces, and then again, sometimes only pieces of the victim’s bodies were ever found.
After being caught, Peter was tortured severely, upon which he confessed to being a werewolf. He claimed he made a pact with Satan, who imbued him with the ability to change into a hungry, greedy wolf. He was executed in a most heinous manner; his body broken and beheaded. Peter’s daughter was also burned alive beside him to end his bloodline.
In the 1500s, accusations of men being werewolves ran rampant, much like what happened in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1600s with witches in the Salem Witch Trials. One of the most infamous people to be convicted of being a werewolf was serial child killer and cannibal Peter Stumpp, also known as the Werewolf of Bedburg. After being tortured, Stumpp confessed that he had been practicing dark magic since he was a preteen. Stumpp had spent the last 25 years killing, eating, and drinking the blood of both animals and humans. Among his victims were 14 children, one of them being his own son whose brain he ate. Two of Stumpp’s victims were pregnant women, he cut out their fetuses while they were still alive and ate them. Stumpp claimed the Devil had given him a belt that transformed him into a werewolf when he put it on and he committed his crimes as a werewolf. Legend stated that Stumpp had lost his left hand when a hunter cut off his paw while he was in wolf form. Peter Stumpp was executed on Halloween in 1589. Hot pincers were used to remove the flesh from his arms and legs, he was beheaded, and his body was burned. Today it is debated by some as to if Stumpp really committed the crimes or not because he only confessed when tortured.
Moyland Castle is a moated castle in Bedburg-Hau in the district of Kleve, one of the most important neo-Gothic buildings in Nordrhein-Westfalen. Its name derives from the Dutch word Mooiland (“beautiful country”). It was probably coined by Dutch workers, whom the former owner Jacob van den Eger had brought in to drain the surrounding wetlands. Today it houses a museum containing an extensive collection of modern art of the brothers van der Grinten and is a popular destination on the Lower Rhine. 1307 was the year that a fortified farm with ditches and ramparts was first documented in this spot.