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The Source:

F. Nork:
"Die Sitten und Gebräuche der Deutschen und ihrer Nachbarvölker, mit Bezugname auf die aus den kirchlichen, abergläubischen x. und Rechtsbräuchen hervorgegangenen Mythen und Volkssagen"
Stuttgart, 1849

Dom Augustin Calmet :
"Dissertation sur les Revenants en Corps, les Excommuniés, Les Oupirs ou Vampires, Brucolaques, etc."
Debure l'Aîné, Paris, 1751

The Case:

Both articles underneath seem to have the same source: articles in the "Mercure Galant", published in 1693 and 1694. Despite my efforts I have not managed to find copies of the original publication, so we will have to make do with what others have to say. Dom Calmet's work has been widely published and is easily available to everyone. So let us start with the more obscure Mr. Nork who reports the following:

"Die Zeitungen meldeten unter dem Jahre 1693 und 1694: wie sich in Polen, und besonders in polnisch Rusland, nicht selten Vampyre sehen ließen, die bei hellem Tage Menschen und Vieh das Blut aussaugten, das ihnen dann im Grabe zu Mund, Nase, besonders aber zu den Ohren auslaufe; so daß man sie oft im Sarge wie im Blute schwimmend finde. Sie begnügten sich dabei nicht mit einer Person im Hause, sondern wenn man ihnen nicht wehrte, richteten sie nach und nach alle zu Grunde. Einige jedoch, um sich zu schützen, mengten von ihrem Blute unter das Brotmehle, und die von solchem Brode aßen, blieben sicher vor ihnen."

Next, let's have a look at Dom Calmet's version which is headed: "Récit tiré du Mercure Galant de 1693 & 1694 sur les Revenans"

"Les mémoires publics des années 1693 & 1694. parlent des Oupires, Vampires ou Revenans, qui se voient en Pologne & sur-tout en Russie. Ils paroissent depuis midi jusqu'à minuit, & viennent sucer le sang des hommes ou des animaux vivans en si grande abondance, que quelquefois il leur sort par la bouche, par le nez, & principalement par les oreilles, & que quelquefois le cadavre nage dans son sang répandu dans son cercueil. On dit que le Vampire a une espéce de faim, qui lui fait manger le linge qu'il trouve autour de lui. Ce rédivive ou Oupire sorti de son tombeau, ou un Démon sous sa figure, va la nuit embrasser & serrer violemment ses proches ou ses amis, & leur suce le sang, jusqu'à les affoiblir, les exténuer & leur causer enfin la mort. Cette persécution ne s'arrête pas à une seule personne; elle s'étend jusqu'à la derniére personne de la famille, à moins qu'on n'en interrompe le cours en coupant la tête, ou en ouvrant le coeur du Revenant, dont on trouve le cadavre dans son cercueil mol, fléxible, enflé & rubicond, quoiqu'il soit mort depuis long-tems. Il sort de son corps une grand quantité de sang, que quelques-uns mêlent avec de la farine pour faire du pain; & ce pain mangé à l'ordinaire, les garantit de la vexation de l'Esprit, qui ne revient plus."

Now both stories give us more or less the same main facts. I will translate Nork's version:

"The newspapers report for the years of 1693 and 1694: how in Poland, and in Polish Russia in particular, it was not a rare thing to see vampires, who in broad daylight sucked the blood of people and cattle, which in their graves came running from their mouth, nose and especially their ears; so that they were often found in their coffin swimming in blood. They were not satisfied with one person in a house, for if they were not warded off they would destroy one after another. Some people, however, to protect themselves, mixed some of the blood with flour to make bread, and those who ate from that bread were secure from them."

Calmet reports the same things but he presents us with more details. He gives us the Polish name "Oupire". He mentions the eating of shrouds. He is more precise about the time when the vampires appear: between noon and midnight. Now - suspicious as always - I am wondering: is Nork's version just a rehash of what he has read in Calmet ? Or has Calmet been embellishing his story ? There is only one way to find out: let's find the original story in the "Mercure Galant"...

The Date:

We have been given the dates of 1693 and 1694. We may assume that they are the publication dates for the relevant articles. But are they also the date for the reported facts ?

The Place:

It's all rather vague: Poland, and especially the Russian part of Poland...

Possible Follow-Up:

Without a doubt our first task is to find a copy of the relevant issues of the "Mercure Galant". Older versions are online in the main French library. Sadly not for the years we are looking for. Let's not give up hope and be patient. They may sooner or later surface somewhere...

© 2012 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed August 2012

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