Similar to the Peter Plogokwitz case, this incident became known because of the existing documents and the implication of austrian authorities represented by 2 doctors that were dispatched to investigate the circumstances [Glaser and Flückinger].
Along with the account above mentioned, the following stood at the very core of the vampire hysteria that swept across the continent in the 18th century and that was based on a very poor understanding of the decay process.
Arnold Paole [Arnont Paule in the original documents] was a Serbian soldier who was believed to have become a vampire after his death, initiating an epidemic of supposed vampirism that killed at least 16 people in his native village of Meduegna [today probably Medveđa].
He had moved there from the part of Serbia that was under Turkish control and had admitted to being attacked by a vampire. He claimed that he recovered by eating some dirt from its grave and smearing himself with the creature’s blood.
Paole was able to return to his home in 1727; however, he died soon after from a fall off a haywagon, and was buried. Within a month after Paole’s death, the people of his village started reporting that he was attacking them at night. Four of the victims eventually died and Arnold`s grave was opened.
Finding not only that the corpse wasn`t rotten [“and that fresh blood had flowed from his eyes, nose, mouth, and ears; that the shirt, the covering, and the coffin were completely bloody; that the old nails on his hands and feet, along with the skin, had fallen off, and that new ones had grown”.] the villagers concluded that Paole was a vampire and proceeded to eradicating it.
They drove a stake through his heart, to which he reacted by groaning and bleeding, and burned the body. They then disinterred Paole’s four supposed victims and performed the same procedure, to prevent them from becoming vampires.
Things seamed to go on peacefully for the next 5 years but in the winter of 1731 a new vampiric epidemic arose. This time over 10 people died in a matter of weeks. Glaser noted in his report [dated 12 december 1731] 13 victims in 6 weeks.
– Miliza [Milica], 50-year-old woman;
– Milloi [Miloje], 14-year-old boy;
– Joachim, a 15-year-old boy;
– Petter [Petar], 15 year;
– Stanno [Stana], a 20-year-old woman as well as her newborn child, which Glaser notes was buried “behind a fence, where the mother had lived” due to not having lived long enough to be baptized;
– Wutschiza [Vučica], 9-year-old little boy;
– Milosova [Milosava], the 30-year-old wife of a soldier;
– Radi [Rade], 24-year-old man;
– Ruschiza [Ružica], 40-year-old woman.
The sick had complained of stabs in the sides and pain in the chest, prolonged fever and jerks of the limbs. Glaser reports that the locals considered Milica and Stana to have started the vampirism epidemic.
Milica had come to the village from Ottoman-controlled territories six years before and she had once mentioned that she had eaten two sheep that had been killed by vampires.
Stana, on the other hand, had admitted that she had smeared herself with vampire blood as a protection against vampires.
According to local belief, both things would cause the women to become vampires after death.
This report doesn`t make a connection to Arnold Paole but Flückinger brings new details.
His report, signed 7 january 1732, states that the locals were convinced that the catalyst for the second epidemic was Milica and that she had eaten the meat of a sheep attacked by Arnold years before.
This time the victim count differs: 17 in 3 months. The last two died after Glaser left the village.
He mentions Miliza (Milica, a 69-year-old woman, died after a three-month illness); an unnamed 8-year-old child; Milloe (Miloje, a 16-year-old boy, died after a three-day illness); Stana (a 20-year-old woman, died in childbirth after a three-day illness, reportedly said that she had smeared herself with vampire blood) as well as her stillborn child (as Flückinger observes, “half-eaten by the dogs due to a slovenly burial”); an unnamed 10-year-old girl; Joachim (a 17-year-old, died after a three-day illness); the hadnack ‘s unnamed wife; Ruscha (Ruža – variant of Ružica – a woman, died after a ten-day illness); Staniko (Stanjko, a 60-year-old man); Miloe (Miloje, the second victim of that name; a 25-year-old man); Ruža’s child (18 days old); Rhade (Rade, a 21-year-old servant of the local hajduk corporal, died after a three-month long illness); the local standard-bearer’s (bajraktar ‘s) unnamed wife, apparently identical to Milošova in the other report along with her child; the 8-week old child of the hadnack; Stanoicka (Stanojka, a 20-year-old woman, the wife of a hajduk, died after a three-day illness).
The difference in the number of victims can be explained because Glaser added to his list only those that presented traditional signs for vampiric victims. But both of them describe the same solution for all the cases.
But how did it get to this?
The villagers became self convinced that they had at least one vampire among them so they turned to Schnezzer – the Austrian official in charge of the village. He brought Glaser [medic that specialized in infectious and contagious diseases] to investigate but he found no evidence for a medical epidemic and concluded that the deaths were a result of malnutrition.
But the people couldn`t be laid to rest that easily. They implemented a night-watch system – 2 up to 5 families would gather in a home and take turns watching as the other slept. At the same time, more and more villagers started to pressure the authorities claiming that they would leave behind everything and leave if matters were dealt with.
Glaser gave his permission and a great number of people were unearthed to be examined. To his great surprise, many of them [those that were on his list] presented clear signs of vampirism.
He convinced the villagers that a notification must be sent to the Empire and that no actions should be taken without a reply from them. He send his report and carried on with his cases [leaving the village].
When the second comity arrived and examined the bodies a second time, it reached the same conclusions. The surgeons summarized all these phenomena by stating that the bodies were in “the vampiric condition”.
After the examination had been completed they took the decision to do as so many did in those days and follow the traditional ways to get ride of the vampires…the Gypsies cut off the heads of the supposed vampires and burned both their heads and their bodies, the ashes being thrown in the Morava river. The decomposed bodies were laid back into their graves. The report is dated 26th of January 1732, Belgrade, and bears the signatures of the five officers involved.
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