The werewolf is a widespread concept in European folklore , existing in many variants, which are related by a common development of a Christian interpretation of underlying European folklore developed during the medieval period. From the early modern period, werewolf beliefs also spread to the New World with colonialism. Belief in werewolves developed in parallel to the belief in witches , in the course of the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. Like the witchcraft trials as a whole, the trial of supposed werewolves emerged in what is now Switzerland especially the Valais and Vaud in the early 15th century and spread throughout Europe in the 16th, peaking in the 17th and subsiding by the 18th century. The persecution of werewolves and the associated folklore is an integral part of the " witch-hunt " phenomenon, albeit a marginal one, accusations of lycanthropy being involved in only a small fraction of witchcraft trials. The case of Peter Stumpp led to a significant peak in both interest in and persecution of supposed werewolves , primarily in French-speaking and German-speaking Europe.
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