The Spirit of Paris
by Alfred de Vigny
You clapped-out, vain old sophist ! Guzzle
old glories, like cheap wine, through drunken muzzle!
What you regard as best, I know is worst.
You just don’t care. You’ll start on the death-mask
of some great man, or better, some serial killer,
before he’s fully dead. You’ll smear on filler,
and meanwhile lift his wallet from the casket.
more severed heads behind the Rue Royale.
You’re the King of Evil, like all other vampires!
For once, talk straight. Speak up. Admit it all!
No? I hope that some poor soon-to-be-deceased
blesses (therefore scalds) your forehead, Beast!
† Short Stories
The following case is presented in a great deal of books and is special in the sense that pretty much every author has a different story and opinion to tell. I`ve even come across books and sites that present it as two distinct accounts because of the slight but numerous changes that have occurred with the passing of the time.
The whole case is based on a news from the “Figaro” from back in 1874 [we are given an approximate date as 5 October].
It mentions the death of a Romanian prince called Borolojovac.
Apparently he had been living in Paris because he was forced to take the road of exile due to vampirism that was hereditary within his family. Even he believed that he would turn into the undead after his death to he made his Parisian host swear that upon his passing he would cut out his heart to keep him from returning.
It remains a mystery if the request was followed or not, but he must have died around September of October of 1874.
Based on the name I can tell you this much… he was not Romanian. In fact there are 5 names that circulate attached to this case: Borolojovac, Barolajovac, Boralajova, Borolojovak and Borolajovek. It seams that in fact he was of Serbian origin and he feared that he was a living vampire – destined to return from the grave.
The news clipping was enough to start a spark in the public so the events were published in 1900 by Stefan Hock in his “Die Vampirsagen – und ihre Verwertung in der deutschen Literatur” [Vampire legends and their utilization in German Literature] and in “Les Vampires” by Tony Faivre .
But perhaps the one that claims to have investigated the most is Jean-Paul Bourre and he published his “Le Culte du Vampire aujourd’hui” [The vampire cult today] in 1978. Needless to say there are many interesting things that were claimed… including the fact that the vampire was a Romanian count.
Sounds familiar? That`s right… Dracula!
After further research in the National Library, Bourre supposedly discovered that the Count used to live in a castle just outside Paris – somewhere in the direction of Mainvilliers. Since it was apparently turned into a hotel, the author went ahead and booked a couple of night. He was struck by luck when he found correspondence of the Count which shows that before he came to Paris he has lived in Venice for some time.
Bourre also informs us that the Count Borolojovak is buried on the famous Isola di San Michele, a cemetery island in Venice.
As you can imagine I am reluctant to believe mr. Bourre simply because there are too many things in his book that cry influence by the infamous novel “Dracula”.
So I will file this as a vampire account that spawned a legend around it 🙂
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At it`s core the legend of the Demidoff Princess is a tale of good old greed and craving for money.
The legend of Père-Lachaise is a rather interesting one as it is based on a couple of true facts. That`s why I think of it as an urban myth rather then a legend.
It all started around 1880 when some newspapers began running a story about a Russian princess who would leave a fortune to the person who would stay inside the chapel on top of her tomb for a year and a day.
It was reported that the princess was inside a glass coffin and that to make sure that her companion would see her at all times, the walls of the chapel had all been covered with mirrors. The only thing he or she was allowed to do was read.
There should be no contact with any living soul, not even the servant who would bring food on a daily basis.
Now this weird bit of news got picked up by foreign newspapers and started circulating around the world. Soon, the director of the Père-Lachaise Cemetery received letters from everywhere, from people who wanted to take up this challenge and stay in the tomb.
Quite a few of them were women.
Both the text and the reaction to the myth were analyzed by Frédéric Ortoli and his opinion on the matter can be found in his “La Tradition” [a magazine he kept, pertaining folklore, legends and superstitions]. According to him, the legend was fueled for so long and even picked up in other countries because it was linked to the human fear of being buried alive.
It is as if the princess wanted to make sure that if she ever were to be buried alive then someone would be there to help her upon her awakening – hence the glass coffin and all the mirrors.
Almost all agree on the fact that the Russian Princess was in fact Lady Demidoff [born Stroganoff] who died in 1818. Her exact title remains unclear… some refer to her as a Baroness, some say she is a Countess and others refer to her as being a Princess.
But the Demidoff tomb doesn`t fit the description in the news. In stead there is another in the 48th division of the famous cemetery that resembles the one in the legend. It belongs to a rich family from Provence – the de Beaujour.
The legend resurfaced in 1894 with an added twist. It was said that all that attempted to complete the task either gave up or went insane. Hauntings were reported and some even claimed that the princess is a vampire.
To that end, many have analyzed the symbolism on the Demidoff tomb and came to the conclusion that it is a “center for vampiric activity”. Everything was taken into consideration and given a special meaning… starting with the exact date of her death [8th of April 1818] that contains the number “888”, to the supposed orientation of the tomb and the engravings on it [a lot of Egyptian symbols, bats and wolfs].
I cannot tell you at what point it turned into an urban vampire legend, but the legend of the Demidoff Princess continues to fascinate to this day.
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† Vampire Accounts