Back to Spookyland's Main Alcove...

The Original Vampire Killing Manual

First published in 1746 by Benedicting monk Dom Augustin Calmet, Traité sur les apparitions des Esprits, et sur les vampires ou les revenans de Hongrie, de Moravie &c. (Treatise on Apparitions of Spirits and on Vampires and Revenants from Hungary, Moravia, etc.) is often regarded as the first literary treatise on vampires. Originally entitled Dissertations sur les apparitions des anges, des demons et des esprits, et sur les revenants et vampires de Hongrie, de Boheme, de Moravie, et de Silesie, later publication removed the reference to angels (agnes), perhaps to focus more on the best selling spooky elements. Boheme (Bohemia), Moravie (Moravia) and Selesie (Selesia) comprise today's Czech Republic and Slovakia. Re-released in 1748, with the most complete edition in 1751, this book is considered to be authoritative treatment on the subject, containing an unprecedented collection of ghostly stories of revenants. It was a best seller for the period, quickly translated into German and Italian for a broader audience. Calmet's tone considers the possibility of vampires with a certain ambiguity, possibly in light of the larger body of his publications for the church.

Still, this is widely regarded as the starting point of all vampiric literature. The following is a selection from the 1850 translation The History and Philosophy of Spirits, Apparitions, &c, &c,:

Chapter VII


I have been told by the late Monsieur de Vassimon, counsellor of the Chamber of the Counts of Bar, that having been sent into Moravia by his late Royal Highness Leopold, first Duke of Lorraine, for the affairs of my Lord the Prince Charles his brother, Bishop of Olmutz and Osnaburgh, he was informed by public report that it was common enough in that country to see men who had died some time before, present themselves in a party, and sit down to table with persons of their acquaintance without saying anything; but that nodding to one of the party, he would infallibly die some days afterwards. This fact was confirmed by several persons, and amongst others by an old cure, who had seen more than one instance of it.

The bishops and priests of the country consulted Rome on so extraordinary a fact; but they received no answer, because, apparently, all those things were regarded there as simple visions, or popular fancies. They afterwards bethought themselves of taking up the corpses of those who came back in that way, of burning them, or of destroying them in some other manner. Thus they delivered themselves from the importunity of these spectres, which are now much less frequently seen than before. So said that good priest.

These apparitions have given rise to a little work, entitled Magia Posthuma, printed at Olmutz, in 1706, composed by Charles Ferdinand de Schertz, dedicated to Prince Charles, of Lorraine, Bishop of Olmutz and Osnaburgh. The author relates that, in a certain village, a woman being just dead, who had taken all her sacraments, she was buried in the usual way in the cemetery. Four days after her decease, the inhabitants of this village heard a great noise and extraordinary uproar, and saw a spectre, which appeared sometimes in the shape of a dog, sometimes in the form of a man, not to one person only, but to several, and caused them great pain, grasping their throats, and compressing their stomachs, so as to sufocate them. It bruised almost the whole body, and reduced them to extreme weakness, so that they became pale, lean and attenuated.

The spectre attacked even the animals, and some cows were found debilitated and half dead. Sometimes it tied them together by their tails. These animals gave sufficient evidence by their bellowing of the pain they suffered. The horses seemed overcome with fatigue, all in a perspiration, principally on the back; heated, out of breath, covered with foam, as they are after a long and rough journey. These calamities lasted several months.

The author whom I have mentioned examines the affair in a lawyer-like way, and reasons much on the fact and the law. He asks if, supposing that those disturbances, for noises and vexations proceeded from that person who is suspected of causing them, they can burn her, as is done to other ghosts who do harm to the living. He relates several instances of similar apparitions, and of the evils which ensued; as of a shepherd of the village of Blow, near the town of Kadam, in Bohemia, who appeared during some time, and called certain persons, who never failed to die within eight days after. The peasants of Blow took up the body of this shepherd, and fixed it in the ground with a stake which they drove through it.

This man, when in that condition, derided them for what they made him suffer, and told them they were very good to give him thus a stick to defend himself from the dogs. The same night he got up again, and by his presence alarmed several persons, and strangled more amongst them than he had hitherto done. Afterwards, they delivered him into the hands of the executioner, who put him in a cart to carry him beyond the village and there burn him. This corpse howled like a madman, and moved his feet and hands as if alive. And when they again pierced him through with stakes he uttered very loud cries, and a great quantity of bright vermilion blood flowed from him. At last he was consumed, and this execution put and end to the appearance and hauntings of this spectre.

The same has been practiced in other places, where similar ghosts have been seen; and when they have been taken out of the ground they have appeared red, with their lips supple and pliable, without worms or decay; but not without a great stink. The author cites divers other writers, who attest what he says of these spectres, which still appear, he says, pretty often in the mountains of Silesia and Moravia. They are seen by night and by day; the things which once belonged to them are seen to move themselves and change their place without being touched by any one. The only remedy for these apparitions is to cut off the heads and burn the bodies of those who come back to haunt people.

At any rate, they do not proceed to this without a form of justicial law. They call for and hear the witnesses; they examine the arguments; they look at the exhumed bodies, to see if they can find any of the usual marks which lead them to conjecture that they are the parties who molest the living, as the mobility and suppleness of the limbs, and fluidity of the blood, and the flesh remaining uncorrupted. If all these marks are found, then these bodies are given up to the executioner, who burns them. It sometimes happens that the spectres appear again for three or four days after the execution. Sometimes the interment of the bodies of suspicious persons is deferred for six or seven weeks. When they do not decay, and their limbs remain as supple and pliable as when they were alive, then they burn them. It is affirmed as certain that the clothes of these persons move without any one living touching them; and within a short time, continues our author, a spectre was seen at Olmutz, which threw stones, and gave great trouble to the inhabitants.

Chapter VIII


About fifteen years ago, a soldier who was billited at the house of a Haidamagne peasant, on the frontiers of Hungary, as he was one day sitting at table near his host, the master of the house saw a person he did not know come in and sit down to table also with them. The master of the house was strangely frightened at this, as were the rest of the company. The soldier knew no what to think of it, being ignorant of the matter in question. But the master of the house being dead the very next day, the soldier inquired what it meant. They told him that it was the body of the father of his host, who had been dead and buried for ten years, which had thus come to sit down next to him, and had announced and caused his death.

The soldier informed the regiment of it in the first place, and the regiment gave notice of it to the general officers, who commissioned the Count de Cabreras, captain of the regiment of Alandetti infantry, to make information conerning this circumstance. Having gone to the place, with some other officers, a surgeon and an auditor, they heard the depositions of all the people belonging to the house, who attested unanimouslythat the ghost was the father of the master of the house, and that all the soldier had said and reported was the exact truth, which was confirmed by all the inhabitants of the village.

In consequence of this, the corpse of this spectre was exhumed, and found to be like that of a man who has just expired, and his blood like that of a living man. The Count de Cabreras had his head cut off, and caused him to be laid again in his tomb. He also took information concerning other similar ghosts, amongst others, of a man dead more than thirty years who had come back three times to his house at meal time. The first time he had sucked the blood from the neck of his own brother, the second time from one of his sons, and the third from one of the servants in the house; and all three died of it instantly and on the spot. Upon this deposition the commissary had this man taken out of his grave, and finding that, like the first, his blood was in a fluid state, like that of a living person, he ordered them to run a large nail into his temple, and they to lay him again in the grave.

He caused a third to be burnt, who had been buried more than sixteen years, and had sucked the blood and caused the death of two of his sons. The commissary having made his report to the general officers, was deputed to the court of the emperor, who commanded that some officers, both of war and justice, some physicians and surgeons, and some learned men, should be sent to examine the causes of these extraordinary events. The person who related these particulars to us had heard them from Monsieur the Count de Cabreras, at Fribourg en Brigau, in 1730.

Chapter IX


This is what we read in the "Lettres Juives," new edition, 1738, Letter 137.

We have just had in this part of Hungary a scene of vampirism, which is duly attested by two officers of the tribunal of Belgrade, who went down to the places specified; and by an officer of the emporer's troops at Graditz, who was an ocular witness of the proceedings.

In the beginning of September there died in the village of Kivsiloa, three leagues from Graditz, an old man who was sixty-two years of age. Three days after he had been buried, he appeared in the night to his son, and asked him for something to eat; the son having given him something, he ate and disappeared. The next day the son recounted to his neighbors what had happened. That night the father did not appear; but the following night he showed himself, and asked for something to eat. They know not whether the son gave him anything or not; but the next day he was found dead in his bed. On the same day, five or six persons fell suddenly ill in the village, and died one after the other in a few days.

The officer or bailiff of the place, when informed of what had happened, sent an account of it to the tribunal of Belgrade, which dispatched to the village two of these officers and an executioner to examine the affair. The imperial officer from whom we have this account repaired thither from Graditz, to be witness of a circumstance which he had so often heard spoken of.

They opened the graves of those who had been dead six weeks. When they came to that of the old man, they found him with his eyes open, having a fine color, with natural respiration, nevertheless motionless as the dead; whence they concluded that he was most evidently a vampire. The executioner drove a stake into his heard; they then raised a pile and reduced the corpse to ashess. No mark of vampirism was found either on the corpse of the son or on the others.

Thanks be to God, we are by no means credulous. We avowthat all the light which physics can throw on this fact discovers none of the causes of it. Nevertheless, we cannot refuse to believe that to be true which is juridically attested, and by persons of probity. We will here give a copy of what happened in 1732, and which we inserted in the Gleaner (Glaneur), No. XVIII.

Chapter X


In a certain canton of Hungary, named in Latin Oppida Heidanum, beyond the Tibisk, vulgo Teiss, that is to say, between that river which waters the fortunate territory of Tokay and Transylvania, the people known by the name of Heyducqs (This story is apprently the same which we related before under the name of Haidamaque, and which happened in 1729 or 1730.) believe that certain dead persons, whom they call vampires, suck all the blood from the living, so that these become visibly attenuated, whilst the corpses, like leeches, fill themselves with blood in such abundance that it is seen to come from them by the conduits, and even oozing through the pores. This opinion has just been confirmed by several facts which cannot be doubted, from the rank of the witnesses who have certified them. We will here relate some of the most remarkable.

About five years ago, a certain Heyducq, inhabitant of Madreiga, named Arnald Paul, was crushed to death by the fall of a wagonload of hay. Thirty days after his death four persons died suddenly, and in the same manner in which according to the tradition of the country, those die who are molested by vampires. They then remembered that this Arnald Paul had often related that in the environs of Cassovia, and on the frontiers of Turkish Servia, he had often been tormented by a Turkish vampire; for they believe also that those who have been passive vampires during life become active ones after their death, that is to say, that those who have been sucked suck also in their turn; but that he had found means to cure himself by eating earth from the grave of the vampire, and smearing himself with his blood; a precaution which, however, did not prevent him from becoming so after his death, since on being exhumed forty days after his interment, they found on his corpse all the indications of an arch-vampire. His body was red, his hair, nails, and beard had all grown again, and his veins were replete with fluid blood, which flowed from all parts of his body upon the winding-sheet which encompassed him. The hadnagi, or bailli of the village, in whose presence the exhumation took place, and who was skilled in vampirism, had, according to custom, a very sharp stake driven into the heart of the defunct Arnald Paul, and which pierced his body through and through, which made him, as they say, utter a frightful shriek, as if he had been alive; that done, they cut off his head, and burnt the whole body. After that they performed the same on the corpses of the four other persons who died of vampirism, fearing that they in their turn might cause the death of others.

All these performances, however, could not prevent the recommencement of these fatal prodigies towards the end of last year, that is to say, five years after, when several inhabitants of the same village perished miserably. In the space of three months, seventeen persons of different sexes and different ages died of vampirism; some without being ill, and others after languishing two or three days. It is reported, amongst other things, that a girl named Stanoska, daughter of the Heyducq Jotiutzo, who went to bed in perfect health, awoke in the middle of the night all in a tremble, uttering terrible shrieks, and saying that the son of the Heyducq Millo who had been dead nine weeks, had nearly strangled her in her sleep. She fell into a languid state from that moment, and at the end of three days she died. What this girl had said of Millo's son made him known at once for a vampire; he was exhumed, and found to be such. The principle people of the place, with the doctors and surgeons, examined how vampirism could have sprung up again after the precautions they had taken some years before.

They discovered at last, after much search, that the defunct Arnald Paul had killed not only the four persons of whom we have spoken, but also several oxen, of which the new vampires had eaten, and amongst others the son of Millo. Upon these indications they resolved to disinter all those who had died within a certain time, &c. Amongst forty, seventeen were found with all the most evident signs of vampirism; so they transfixed their hearts and cut off their heads also, and then cast their ashes into the river.

All the infomations and executions we have just mentioned were made juridically, in proper form, and attested by several officers who were garrisoned in the country, by the chief surgeons of the regiments, and by the principal inhabitants of the place. The verbal process of it was sent towards the end of last January to the Imperial Counsel of War at Vienna, which had established a military commission to examine into the truth of all these circumstances.

Such was the declaration of the Hadnagi Barriarar and the ancient Heyducqs; and it was signed by Battuer, first lieutenant of the regiment of Alexander of Wurtemburg, Clickstenger, surgeon-in-chief of the regiment of Frustemburch, three other surgeons of the company, and Guoichitz, captain at Stallach.

Dom Calmet began his his busy publishing life in 1707 with a series of biblical commentaries, which were also very popular. His vampire treatise is constructed to be ambiguous enough (regarding the actual existence of vampires) that it eluded the church's possible ire.

Selection from The History and Philosophy of Spirits, Apparitions, &c. &c., by Augustine Calmet, A. Hart, Philadelphia, 1850.