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The Source:

Michael Ranft :
"De la Mastication des Morts dans leur Tombeaux" [1728]
Jérôme Millon, Grenoble, France, 1995

The Case:

About six months ago, in the village Kisilova in the Rahm district, a guy called Peter Plogojovitz died. Then the following happened. In Kisilova, nine people, old ones as well as young ones, died from some sort of disease, very quickly within 24 hours after getting ill. And while they were still alive, they declared that Plogojovitz (who had been dead for six months) had visited them during their sleep and had strangled them so hard that they were now going to die. The anxious villagers were strengthened in their fears by Plogojovitz's widow who declared that her husband had come home after his death to collect his shoes.

Then follows a short passage that seems interesting enough to translate more or less verbatim:

"It so happens that with these persons, who are also called "vampyri", there are several ways in which the corpse refuses to decompose. So it is possible to find that their skin, their hair, their beard and their nails, continue to grow."

So all the villagers agreed that the only thing to do was open up Plogojovitz's grave to see if any of the above mentioned signs of vampirism would be visible. And, to make sure that they would not get themselves into trouble with the authorities, they requested "the Imperial Officer" to be present at the opening of the grave. This august person - to whom we owe this story - insisted on first getting permission from a higher authority. The villagers, scared that if they waited that long, no one would be left alive, decided to continue with their investigation without an official blessing. The Imperial Officer, who could not manage to make them change their minds, came to watch the proceedings, accompanied by the village pope. They found the following:

The corpse of Peter Plogojovitz looked remarkably fresh. Admittedly, his nose did not look quite the way it used to, but otherwise his hair, beard and even his nails had fallen away and had been replaced by newly grown ones. His skin had peeled off and had been replaced by new skin. His face, his hands and feet and all the rest of his body could not have looked better when he was still alive. To his amazement, the Imperial Officer even noticed some fresh blood at the mouth of the vampire, proof no doubt of his bloodsucking practices. The villagers continued to hammer a stake through the heart of the vampire. According to the Imperial Officer much fresh blood came out of the mouth and ears of the vampire. There were also other things, that he finds "too savage to mention". After staking the corpse, it was cremated.

The declaration is signed by the Imperial Officer of Gradiska.

The Date:

The official report by the Imperial Officer is said to be dated 31 July, 1725.

The Place:

I found the village of Kisilova on an old and very detailed map of the European part of the Turkish Empire. It is now situated in Serbia and can be found an a little island in the river, East of Beograd.

Personal Comments:

There seems little doubt that this story is based on a genuine official report.

Possible Follow-Up:

The usual. Find as many versions of this story as we can. And try to trace them back to their original sources. Ultimately, try to find the original report by "the Imperial Officer".

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

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