Thursday, 17 March 2011

What if ...

What if Flückinger had not been sent to Medvedja in 1732? Or if the Visum et Repertum had attracted no attention but had just been another report stored at the Hofkammerarhiv in Vienna?

As we know, Michael Ranft was so intrigued by reading of the supposed vampire Peter Plogojowitz that he presented his own De masticatione mortuorum later in 1725, but otherwise few people seemed to take note of it.

It did, however, attract a bit of attention at the Academia Naturæ Curios. in Breslau (Wrocław in Poland), the publisher of the so-called Breslauische Sammlungen, a major scientific journal of the early 18th century. Founded by Johann Kanold, it was originally published in Breslau, but later on in Leipzig and Budziszyn (Bautzen).

In 1727 the volume containing information on the Summer quarter of 1725 was published, and among other both enlightening and entertaining articles, e.g. ‘von einem See-Manne’, of a merman, it contains an Article 19: ‘Abentheuerliche Begebenheit mit einem Vermeyntlich wieder gekommenen Todten’. The dead man who was presumed to return was Peter Plogojowitz as referred to in a ‘gazette’ containing the report from Kisiljevo in Northern Serbia: ‘Copia eines Schreibens aus dem Gradisker District in Hungarn M. Aug. 1725’.

The document is followed by an analysis to prove that the incident stems from superstition, oversight and rashness (‘Diß ist abermals eine Begebenheit vom Aberglauben, Inadvertenz, und rachgieriger Ubereilung’), which argues in a forensic fashion that was to be used in several texts on the subject after the incidents at Medvedja in 1732. A short review of Ranft’s original dissertation is also provided, and a reference is given to a previous issue on examples of masticating dead from Poland and Prussia (‘Von dem Polnischen Upiertz oder sich selbst fressenden Todten und der daraus entstandenen Furcht for Pest- und Vieh-Sterben’).

I think it is fair to say that if Glaser and Flückinger had not reported from Medvedja in 1732, this would have been about as much attention the Serbian vampire had received.


Anthony Hogg said...

Jeez, the stuff you turn up Niels! Impressive work!

If you don't mind me asking, where'd you get it from?

Niels K. Petersen said...

I don't think it's available online. I read it at the Royal Library in Copenhagen, Denmark. You will find it mentioned by both Schroeder and Hamberger.

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