5 Disturbing Stories of Medieval and Renaissance Serial Killers

Sometimes what comes down to us as a story is actually a mixture of fact and fiction. Biased reports, hidden and not-so-hidden agendas distort what we read, hear and learn. This certainly applies to stories of medieval and renaissance serial killers, but that doesn't make them any less unsettling. In fact, it adds to their overall creepiness.

Much of what we know about medieval and renaissance serial killers says as much about the accused as it does about the accusers themselves. Anxiety about witchcraft and accusations of being a werewolf, for example, reflect religious, political, and social fear and insecurity. However, many acts of violence and cruelty are bad enough in and of themselves to need no embellishment.

The following stories are about unexplained and horrific deaths, abuse, and many tortures.

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5 Disturbing Stories of Medieval and Renaissance Serial Killers

1. Elizabeth Bathory was introduced to Satanism and sadomasochism as a child.

Elizabeth Bathory (also known as Elisabeth) was born in 1560 and was a Hungarian noblewoman who was accused in 1609 or 1610 of killing many girls and young women. Bathory was raised by her aunt and uncle, who are believed to have practiced Satanism and sadomasochism. By the time she married Count Ferenc Nadasdy at the age of 15, Báthory had probably already been subjected to various rituals and methods of torture by her relatives. When she moved to her husband's castle, he reportedly built a torture chamber for her. During the first decade of the 1600s, Bathory tortured her servants by sticking needles under their fingernails and applying honey to them to make insects attack. After her husband passed away in 1604, Bathory's actions became more extreme, with indications that she ate the flesh of her living and dead victims and bathed in human blood. When Bathory went to trial, she was accused of killing 80 people, although some theories suggest she killed hundreds. She was found guilty, but instead of being executed, she was imprisoned. She died in 1614.

5 Disturbing Stories of Medieval and Renaissance Serial Killers

2. Peter Niers confessed to being a cannibal who ate embryos.

Under severe torture, Peter Niers confessed to numerous murders and cannibalism. He was originally part of a gang that traveled the German countryside in the mid to late 16th century. Believed to have been mentored by another notorious serial killer, Martin Steer, Niers was apprehended in the late 1570s but escaped and remained on the run until 1581. The details of how many people Niers killed are shrouded in myth, but the general consensus is 544 people. Twenty-four of these deaths were fruits that he cut from the wombs of pregnant women. According to reports, he used the fetuses for magic and as a sort of supernatural fuel.

5 Disturbing Stories of Medieval and Renaissance Serial Killers

3. Pierre Burgaud and Michel Verdun were confessed devil-worshippers and murderers, and presumably werewolves.

At their trial in 1521, Pierre Burgaud and Michel Verdun claimed that demonic forces were to blame for their terrible behavior. The men were brought before the Prior of the Dominicans of Poligny in France, where they confessed that they "denied God and swore to serve the devil" by dancing and making sacrifices to the latter. According to the stories, they then described how they turned into werewolves by applying the ointment on themselves. Taking the form of a wolf, they attacked children and feasted on their flesh before killing them. Burgo and Verdun were burned alive for their crimes.

5 Disturbing Stories of Medieval and Renaissance Serial Killers

4. Christman Genipperteing is said to have killed about 1,000 people.

The deeds of Christman Genipperteing, a 16th-century bandit from Germany, took place over a period of 13 years. It is reported that during this time he killed 964 people. He is said to have documented this in a diary that was found on him when he was taken into custody in 1581. History and folklore are closely linked in this story. There are some claims that Genipperting never existed, and over time its history has become one of sexual slavery, cannibalism, and execution on the wheel.

5 Disturbing Stories of Medieval and Renaissance Serial Killers

5. Alice Kyteler became the first witch convicted in Ireland.

In 1324 Kyteler was put on trial for witchcraft. A wealthy Irish woman from Kilkenny was accused of worshiping the devil, dealing with a demon, and killing several of her husbands. When her fourth husband passed away, his progeny (and Kyteler's stepsons) denounced her. Kiteler and several of her accomplices were flogged and beaten. As the alleged leader of the group, she was sentenced to be burned at the stake, but the execution never took place.

Keywords: Stories | Renaissance | Serial Killers | Creepiness | Murders | Killler

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