Thursday, 10 May 2007

An der Türkischen Granitz

I recently quoted Glaser’s letter to one of the editors of Commercii litterarii about a case of Magia Posthuma in a Serbian village. Obviously, this was the famous Medvegia vampire case of the winter 1731-32.

Many years ago I first read the official report about the Medvegia vampire case, Flückinger’s Visum et Repertum, in Dieter Sturm and Klaus Völker’s classic German anthology Von denen Vampiren oder Menschensaugern: Dichtungen und Dokumente (1st edition: Carl Hanser Verlag, 1968). The reprint of the report is based on a contemporary version from Nuremberg and carries the introductory text:

“Über die so genannten Vampirs, oder Blut-Aussauger, so zu Medvegia in Servien, an der Türkischen Granitz, den 7. Januarii 1732 geschehen.”

In fact, the same text can be found on p. 211ff in Michael Ranft’s famous Tractat von dem Kauen und Schmatzen der Todten in Gräbern, Worin die wahre Beschaffenheit derer Hungarischen Vampyrs und Blut-Sauger gezeigt, Auch alle von dieser Materie bißher zum Vorschein gekommene Schrifften recensiret werden (Leipzig, 1734).

However, I never really understood that bit about “an der Türkischen Granitz”, but then I must admit that for many years I was uncertain about the location of the village Medvegia.

But when I noticed that Klaus Hamberger cites it as “an der türckischen Gräniz” in his anthology Mortuus non mordet: Kommentierte Dokumentation zum Vampirismus 1689-1791 (Turia & Kant, 1992; p. 49), it occurred to me that “Granitz” must either be a variant or possibly a misspelling of German “Grenze”, i.e. border. So Medvegia should have been located near the Turkish border.

In fact Medvegia (or actually, Medvedja or more correctly: Medveđa) is close to the river Zapadna Morava, into which the ashes of the supposed vampires were thrown, and this river was to my knowledge the border between the Northern part of Serbia occupied by the Habsburgs and the Southern part still under Ottoman rule during the years 1718 and 1739.

So “Granitz” has nothing to do with granite or whatever I might have wondered about years back, but just places this famous location of Magia Posthuma at the extreme periphery of the Austrian Habsburg Empire during the few decades when Northern Serbia was under their rule.

I will return to Medvedja and other places associated with Magia Posthuma in later posts.


Niels K. Petersen said...

After writing this post, I noticed that "Granitz" is explained as "Grenze" in the modern reprint of Ranft's Traktat von dem Kauen und Schmatzen der Toten in Gräbern (U Books, 2006).

Michal said...

In some Slavonic languages the word for "border" derives from German term "Grenze". "Granica" means "border" in Croatian, Serbian and Polish. In Czech and Slovakian - "hranice".

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