The “18th century Vampire Conspiracy” is said to have ignited the basis of the modern era Vampire. Though we know from previous blogs, there are other examples of documentation that exist from before the Bible was ever penned. Nevertheless, there was a frenzy of Vampire sightings during this era in and near Transylvania, resulting in frequent stakings and grave diggings. The panic began as an outbreak of vampire attacks occurred in East Prussia in 1721 which spread to outlying regions up until 1734.
Two famous vampire cases, which were the first to be officially recorded, involved the corpses of Peter Plogojowitz and Arnold Paole from Serbia. Plogojowitz was reported to have died at the age of 62, but allegedly returned after his death asking his son for food. When the son refused, he was found dead the following day. Plogojowitz soon supposedly returned and attacked some neighbours who died from loss of blood. In the second case, Arnold Paole, an ex-soldier turned farmer who allegedly was attacked by a vampire years before, died while haying. After his death, people began to die in the surrounding area and it was widely believed that Paole had returned to prey on the neighbors.
So who was there to document these occurrences? For one, Dom Augustine Calmet, a well respected French theologian and scholar. Calmet was also a monk, in 1688 he joined the same Order at the Abbey of Saint-Mansuy at Toul, where he was admitted to profession on the 23 October of the following year. After his ordination, 17 March 1696, he was appointed to teach philosophy and theology at the Abbey of Moyenmoutier.
In 1746 Calmet comprised a comprehensive treatise concerning the existence of Vampires. As you can imagine, the compilation of reports on vampire incidents was quite controversial for his time, therefore it was certainly read by all to include even Voltaire. In his Philosophical dictionary, Voltaire wrote:
These vampires were corpses, who went out of their graves at night to suck the blood of the living, either at their throats or stomachs, after which they returned to their cemeteries. The persons so sucked waned, grew pale, and fell into consumption; while the sucking corpses grew fat, got rosy, and enjoyed an excellent appetite. It was in Poland, Hungary, Silesia, Moravia, Austria, and Lorraine, that the dead made this good cheer.
An example of Calmets’ reports:
“It is now about fifteen years since a soldier, who was quartered in the house of a Haidamack peasant, upon the frontiers of Hungary, saw, as he was at the table with his landlord, a stranger come in and sit down by them. The master of the house and the rest of the company were strangely terrified, but the soldier knew not what to make of it. The next day the peasant died, and, upon the soldier’s enquiring into the meaning of it, he was told that it was his landlord’s father who had been dead and buried above ten years that came and sat down at table, and gave his son notice of his death.
“The soldier soon propagated the story through his regiment, and by this means it reached the general officers, who commissioned the count de Cabreras … to make an exact enquiry into the fact. The count, attended by several officers, a surgeon, and a notary, came to the house, and took the deposition of all the family, who unanimously swore that the spectre was the landlord’s father, and that all the soldier had said was strictly true. The same was also attested by all the inhabitants of the village.
“In consequence of this the body of the spectre was dug up, and found to be in the same state as if it has been but just dead…. The count de Cabreras ordered its head to be cut off, and the corpse to be buried again. He then proceeded to take depositions against other spectres of the same sort, and particularly against a man who had been dead above thirty years, and had made his appearance there several times in his own house at meal-time. At his first visit he had fastened upon the neck of his own brother, and sucked his blood; at his second, he had treated one of his children in the same manner; and the third time, he fastened upon a servant of the family, and all three died upon the spot.
“Upon this evidence, the count gave orders that he should be dug up, and being found, like the first, with his blood in a fluid state, as if he had been alive, a great nail was drove through his temples, and he was buried again. The count ordered a third to be burnt, who had been dead above sixteen years, and was found guilty of murdering two of his own children by sucking their blood.
“The gentleman who acquainted me with all these particulars, had them from the count de Cabreras himself, at Fribourg in Brisgau, in the year 1730.”
Sound pretty convincing to me, You?