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The Source:

W.J.A. von Tettau & J.D.H. Temme :
"Die Volkssagen Ostpreussens, Lithauens und Westpreussens" [1837]
reprinted by : Georg Olms Verlag, Hildesheim - Zürich - New York, 1994

The Case:

I first found a brief mention of this case in Montague Summers book "The vampire in Europe" [1929] :

"In his chronicle under the year 1343 Sebastian Moelers relates that during a terrible visitation of the Black Death cases of vampirism were numerous in the Tyrol, and the Benedictine abbey of Marienberg was much infested, one at least of the monks, Dom Steino von Netten, being commonly reputed to have been slain by a vampire."

It is not much that Summers has to offer and, despite the fact that his account is only one sentence long, he has still managed to get most facts wrong. No need for us to panic, for we can find an earlier - more trustworthy and more detailed - mention of the case in von Tettau & Temme's "Die Volkssagen Ostpreussens, Lithauens und Westpreussens" [1837]. Under the title "Der ruhelose Leichnam" they have much more to say about the case.

"When in the year of 1343 Prussia was suffering from the plague, brother Steino von Netten left Marienburg in order to escape from the danger. However, when he reached Lauenburg he met with the death that he had been trying to escape from. The "Vogt" of Lauenburg arranged for him to be buried the same evening, but the next morning the corpse was found outside its grave. This happened three times. When this miracle had been reported to the "Hochmeister", he sent a "Comthur" to the grave with orders to put his sword through the corpse and to order it to behave itself and stop moving from its place. Only after this had been done, and the corpse had been buried for the fourth time, it came to rest in its grave."

The Date:

For what it's worth, we have been presented with an exact year: 1343.

The Place:

We have been given two names: Marienburg and Lauenburg. Marienburg is now called Malbork and Lauenburg has been renamed to Lêbork. Both places can be found in Poland. Malbork is situated a little SouthEast of Gdansk. And Lebork can be found somewhere NorthWest of Gdansk. As could be expected, Malbork has its own home page:  Urzad Miasta Malborka  and so does Lêbork:  Lêbork OnLine . And there's even better news. Even the good old Marienburg Castle has a site of its own:  Zamek w Malborku .

Personal Comments:

The titles of the authorities mentioned in the case may need some further explanation. In 1231 the territory of Prussia came to be ruled by the "Order of the Teutonic Knights" or "Der Deutsche Orden". The "Hochmeister" was the "Grandmaster" of this Order. Supposing that the given year, 1343, is correct, then it seems likely that the Hochmeister that is mentioned in this case must have been Ludolf König. A "Comthur" was a "Commander" within the Order. As to the "Vogt", this was the title of someone who had been appointed by the Knights to rule a certain part of the territory on their behalf. The "Order of the Teutonic Knights" had been founded during the Crusades. The Marienburg itself (which still exists) is one of the largest Medieval castles of Europe. In 1309 it became the residence of the Knights. It also was the home of a number of monks, one of whom must have been Steino von Netten. That the vampire was stabbed with a sword can be explained by the fact that the Knights were involved.

Possible Follow-Up:

There are Sebastian Moeler's "Chronicles" to be found. There is the history of the Order that might be interesting to check out. Please note that the Order as such still exists. There is the history of the Marienburg, that could give us further background information. And of course we can always consider visiting the Marienburg and Lauenburg to try and find out more about the places where this case has taken place.

© 2009 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed 19 November 2009 - Links last checked 22 September 2008
"The Marienburg around 1900" - photograph from a very old book

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