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The Source:

Erasmus Francisci:
"Der Höllische Proteus"
Nürnberg, 1690

The Case:

This is what Erasmus Francisci has to say:

"Es gedenckt auch Zelerius in seinen Trauer-Geschichten: Er habe zu Eywanschitz in Mähren im Jahr 1617 un 18 zu unterschiedlichen Mahlen von glaubwürdigen Bürger dess Orts erzehlen hören dass daselbst vor etlichen Jahren (nemlich von selbiger Zeit zuruckzurechnen) ein dem Ansehn nach ehrlicher Bürger auf dem Kirchhofe selbiger Stadt beerdigt worden; aber stets bey der Nacht aufgestanden sey und Leute umgebracht habe. Dieser liess allezeit seinen Sterb-Kittel bey dem Grabe ligen: und wann er sich wiederum niderlegte; zoch er denselben wieder an. Es wurden aber einmals die Wächter auf dem Kirch-Turm gewahr als er vom Grabe wegging; eilten derhalben hinab und trugen ihm den Sterb-Kittel hinweg. Da er nun wieder zum Grabe kommend seinen Kittel nicht antraff; rief er ihnen zu sie sollten ihm den Kittel wiedergeben oder er wollte ihnen Allen die Hälse brechen. Welches sie auch in grossem Schrecken gethan.

Aber nachmals musste der Hencker ihn ausgraben und zu Stücken zerhauen. Worauf man weiter nichts gespührt. Der Scharfrichter zoch ihm einen langen grossen Schleyer aus dem Maul hervor welchen er seinem Weibe vom Kopf hinweg gefressen hatte. Diesen zeigte der Nachrichter dem umherstehende Volck und rieff: Schauet ! wie der Schelm so geitzig gewesen ! Nachdem er aus dem Grabe genommen war sagte er; Sie hetten es jetzo wol recht getroffen; sonst weil sein Weib auch gestorben und zu ihm gelegt wäre wollten sie Beyde die halbe Stadt umgebracht haben."

I will give you a rough translation. If you think you can do it better, just skip the next part.

"Zelerius too in his Trauer-Geschichten remembers: He has in Eywanschitz in Mähren in the years of 1617 and 18 on several occasions heard from trustworthy citizens of the town, that many years ago (counting back from the time he was there) an apparently honest citizen had been buried in the local churchyard; but every night he rose from his grave and killed people. This man always left his shroud at the side of his grave: and before he got back into his grave he put it on again. Watchers on the church tower saw him leaving and rushed down to take away his shroud. When he came back to his grave and found his shroud missing he shouted that they should give it back or he would break their necks. So they quickly gave back the shroud.

But afterwards the Hangman had to dig him up and chop him to pieces. After that there was no further trouble. The Executioner pulled a long shroud from his mouth that he had eaten away from his wife. The Executioner showed it to the people and shouted: Look ! what an appetite did this scoundrel have ! After he had been taken from his grave he said: things worked well for him; because his wife had also died and was put aside of him, those two would have killed the whole town."

The Date:

According to the information that we are handed by Erasmus Francisci, it was Zeiler who heard this tale in the years of 1617 and 1618. It was said to have happened "vor etlichen Jahren", which means quite some time ago.

The Place:

Thanks to the brilliant old German Encyclopedia by Zedler, it did not take us much trouble to find that Eywanschitz is also know as Ewansczitz, Eybanschitz, Eibanschitz and Eibenschitz. It is said to be a town in Mähren next to the river Igläu. If I am correct, I have found that the town is now called Ivancice and can be found in the Czech Republic, somewhere between Brno and Znojmo, which happens to be the place where the Emperor Sigismund has died.

Personal Comments:

This story - as far as I remember - also gets a short mention in Montague Summers. Apparently it can also be found in Valvasor's work. Unfortunately my copy of it must be on one of those hundreds of discs that date back to the times when I did not have external harddisks. With the amount of material that I have collected over the years, plus the rather unorganised matter in which it has been stored away, perhaps it is time for me to employ a secretary. Anyway, the most striking thing is how much this tale resembles the story of things that are said to have happened in Liebava. Plus I did find the same tale - more or less - being repeated somewhere in Germany. So this may well be what folklorists seem to call a "Wander-Sage".

Possible Follow-Up:

Check all different versions you can find and try to get hold of Zeiler's "Trauer-Geschichte", which at this stage appears to be the original, or at least the oldest source for this story.

© 2009 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed 19 November 2009

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