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The Source:

Samuel Friedrich Lauterbach
"Kleine Fraustädtische Pest-Chronica"
Joh.Fried. Gleditsch und Sohn, Leipzig, 1710

The Case:

Of course it would have been nice to give you the oldest version that I have heard of - the one by Martin Weinrich - but I don't think I have it. I could have taken Henry Moore's rendering of the facts, but being a lazy bastard, I think that it is too much work to type it all in. Besides, it is widely available. And that is why I took this old German version, which is not too long. In fact it is so short that I will try to translate it for you as well.

"In einem Städlein Schlesiens, Bentschen, ist ein Rathsherr, Johannes Cunz, nach seinem Tode wiederkommen, und hat fast in allen Häusern der Stadt, dermaßen rumoret daß schon niemand darauf zureisen, noch darinn wohnen wollen. Nach langem Berathen, ward resolviret, den Cörper aufzugraben, der hart für dem Altar in der Kirchen, und bereits von dem 8. Febr. biß auf den 20. Jul. in die 23. Wochen in den Erden gelegen, auch noch gantz weich, lebhafft, mit vollen Adern, und da man die Haut gerißet, blutrünstig anzusehen war. Man machte drauf ein Loch, durch die Kirch-Maur, und ließ ihn da auf einer Schleiffe, durch den Hencker, an den Galgen schleppen, der so schwer gewesen, daß der dicke Strick etlichemahl zerrissen, und das Pferd an ihm gezogen, als wenn es die allerschwerste Last hätte. Allwo er mit 217. Bränn-Scheiten zu Pulver verbrandt, und die übrige Asche ins Wasser geworffen worden. Worauf auch alles Rumoren in den Häusern gleich aufgehöret."

"In a small town in Silezia, Bentschen, a councilor, Johannes Cunz, returned after his death and made such a noise in almost all of the houses of the town, that nobody wanted to go or live there. After long deliberation it was decided to dig up the corpse that had already been 23 weeks in the earth, in front of the altar of the church, from the 8th of February until the 20th of July, but still was quite supple, looking lifelike, with full veins, and when the skin was scratched, it looked bloody. A hole was made in the church wall, to have the corpse pulled to the gallows by the hangman, but the corpse was so heavy that the strong knot broke a couple of times, and the horse had to pull as if it was a very heavy load. There he was burned to ashes on 217 logs of firewood, and the ashes were thrown into the water. Whereupon all the racket in the houses immediately stopped."

The Date:

Here we are given no date for the year. But elsewhere we can find the year of 1592.

The Place:

In this version the place is called Bentschen. In other versions I have seen all kinds of names: Pentsch, Bennisch, Bendschin, Pentschen, Ventschen... In one version there is reference to "Bendschin oder Pentsch, ein Städtchen im Fürstenthume Jägerndorf an der Mährischen Grenze". And on an old German map we can find a place called Bennisch, somewhere between Jägerndorf (now called Krnov) and Troppau ( now called Opava). I am pretty sure that this must be our place.

Possible Follow-Up:

Just like we have been given different place names, we have the same problem with the name of the restless dead man. Cunz, Cuntze, Cuntius, Kuntze... Which one is correct ? This is one of those stories that you can find repeated and rewritten in lots of books about vampires. There is the famous version by Henry Moore, it is in Summers, etc., etc. Some stories have a lot of details. Are they authentical facts or are they later embellishments ? It's for you to find out.

© 2011 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed December 2011

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