Lombard King Albion successfully conquered much of Italy around 570. His nomadic warrior tribe was obviously of Saka descent and had recently crossed the Alps from Germany after residing briefly in the Balkans. They ended up settling down permanently in Italy and the Roman Empire (weakened by invasions and disease) allowed these pagans to retain some of their own culture well into the Middle Ages. Eventually, however, the Lombards became major targets of the Inquisition.
The painting above concerns the death of King Albion, murdered by a plot involving his wife and her brother. He was killed while asleep, his weapons having been previously removed from the chamber, although the depiction of a lance is appropriate, since the lance had replaced the battle ax as primary magical totem for his warrior class, although it was soon usurped by the rise of the magic sword. The passing of the king’s lance was the Lombard ceremony marking the enthronement of a new king.
On the eve of a battle against the Assipi, the number of tents and fires inside the Lombard encampment suddenly tripled and Lombard spies inside Maurina began circulating a fable that magic reinforcements had arrived, men-wolf hybrids who lusted after human blood, and once fed, would become invincible, infused with a miraculous superhuman energy. To enhance this drama, men with wolf masks wearing wolf hides ran howling through the camp upon ascension of the full moon.
This tactic was so effective it was probably deployed many times prior to a battle. The part about drinking human blood was real, for just like their Saka ancestors, Lombards believed in decapitating enemies in battle and drinking blood from their skull caps.
According to Herodotus, the insides of these human chalices were once plated with gold, while the outside wrapped with human or animal skin. But after settling in Italy, the Lombard’s published a detailed description of their human chalices, which by this time included metal bases. This is the true origin of the Holy Grail.
According to Vita Barbati, an elaborate Saka-like pagan ceremony was still being held outside the town of Benevento in 663. Young men on horseback with lances would ride full gallop past a hide hanging from a tree located on the banks of a river. After everyone pierced it, they tore the hide to bits with their teeth and devoured the pieces.
This was just the sort of activity the Vatican frowned upon so Benevento eventually became a major target of the Inquisition. Early on, punishments and accusations were mild. But after the Reformation kicked in, both sides deployed accusations of witchcraft as a primary tool of terror. A fraudulent book was published in Germany, the Malleus Maleficarum (Witch’s Hammer), which gave instructions on how to identify, torture and kill witches with great dispatch. For example, if a women did not cry during a witch trial, it was deemed sufficient evidence she was a witch and fully acceptable same as a confession in a court of law. It was fairly easy to deploy the Malleus to attack just about anyone for any reason, and although the Vatican condemned the book as false, it ended up on the desk of many Inquisitors as the go-to manual. As a forged political document, I’d equate it on the scale of the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
For hundreds of years, Lombards covered themselves in oil on certain nights for ritual lucid dreaming, in which they turned into animal guides to battle demons on the astral plane to ensure a bountiful harvest. When told to stop practicing this witchcraft, they protested their innocence of evil to no avail. Much of our werewolf mythology as well as witch’s sabbats around a walnut tree spring from Benevento.
Meanwhile, many centuries later, in 1589, Peter Stumpp was put on a rack in Germany and claimed to have met the Devil at age 12 and received a magic girdle that allowed him to take wolf form. He confessed to killing and eating 14 children, including his own long dead son, as well as having forbidden sex with his daughter and a unwed mistress.
On October 31, 1589, he was chained to a wheel and ripped into ten pieces by red-hot pincers. His limbs were then broken with the blunt side of an ax to prevent his return from the afterlife. He was burned on a pyre along with his daughter and mistress, who’d already been flayed and strangled before his eyes. The torture wheel was then displayed on a pole with a figure of a wolf and Stumpp’s severed head placed on top.
Although the Inquisition began with a whimper, it went out with a roar, as every fantasy invented by Malleus Maleficarum came to life in the minds of the people. Witches never really existed, and black magic sorcery seldom practiced by peasants, but after centuries of terror and mind control, the numbers of evil doers rose immensely, as if in a self-fulfilling prophesy.