Hans Trapp is a legendary figure in the Alsace and Lorraine regions of France. While there are several variations of the tale the most popular one says that he was a cruel man of great wealth. However, he acquired his wealth not through hard work but from acts of magick and pacts with demons, he himself being a man who worshipped Satan. It’s said that he was heartless and vain, greedy, and would revel in sin. When the Vatican had heard of Trapp’s cruelty and occultism he was arrested and brought before the Pope. He was excommunicated for Satanism and demonolatry and upon returning back home to France he discovered that his land and property were confiscated from him and he was left without a single penny. The villagers of his hometown shunned and banished him to the woods in nearby Germany.
Enraged and full of scorn for those who took everything away from him, he devoted himself more and more to his dark sorcery. All he could think about was taking revenge on the villagers who exiled him. His hermitage in the woods made him go insane and soon he found himself craving the taste of human flesh. He became obsessed with the idea of cannibalism and so he came up with a plan. He would disguise himself as a scarecrow, wearing raggedy clothing and stuffing it with straw and sticks and would wait in the fields for his prey to come by.
One day a very young shepherd boy came strolling through the field. Taking a sharpened stick, Hans Trapp thrust into the child and killed him, dragging his corpse back to his house where he butchered the child into pieces and roasted him over his fire. Just as he was about to take the first bite of the flesh he had craved so much it’s said that God struck him with lightning. Falling down, he hit his head and died. Parents of the North-Eastern region of France warn their children that every Christmas Hans Trapp’s spirit would come back dressed as a scarecrow with a hood to enact his revenge by abducting naughty children into the forest where they were never seen again.
The legend of Hans Trapp seems to originate from the real life of Hans von Trotha who was born in 1450 and died in 1503. Hans von Trotha was a knight who was entrusted with two castles in the Palatine territory, which included territories of both France and Germany. He had a dispute with an abbot over property and possessions in one of the castles that he was given, which was supposedly originally the monastery’s possessions and the abbot refused to give them up.
So Hans von Trotha created a dam which stopped the water supply of the village below. The abbot complained and he finally tore down the dam, which flooded the village below and caused massive economic damage. Hans von Trotha began attacking the abbot, and when the Emperor couldn’t persuade Hans von Trotha to stop, the abbot went to the Vatican. The Pope summoned Hans von Trotha to be questioned about his loyalty to the church. He declined the visit instead writing a letter accusing the Pope of immorality. In response, he was excommunicated and had an Imperial Ban upon him by the Emperor shortly after his excommunication. He died two years later of natural causes.