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The Source:

Paul de Saint-Hillaire:
"Liège et Meuse Mystérieux"
Rossel, Brussels, Belgium, 1980.

The Case:

In 1851, when the old Chapel of Tergnée was demolished, the workmen discovered five old coffins. Much to their surprise in each one of these coffins a large iron nail had been driven straight through the coffin lid at the place where the breast of the corpse would have been. It was a rather unusual find, so the nails, which were 68 cm long, were taken to the Archaeological Museum of Charleroi. According to our source, Mr. de Saint-Hillaire, these must have been the coffins of 5 former inhabitants of the Chateau de Farciennes: Count Karl-Joseph of Batthyàny, said to be a descendant of Vlad the Impaler, his wife Anna von Waldstein, daughter of a Bohemian nobleman, and their 3 children. Apparently it must have been customary in the Batthyàny-Waldstein family to nail down the dead in order to prevent their return as vampires. The iron nails are said to have been inscribed with the initials of the Batthyàny-Waldstein family. Unfortunately it seems they got lost in the museum.

The Date:

The Batthyàny-Waldsteins are said to have inherited the Chateau de Farciennes from the Princesse de Longueval, some time around the middle of the 18th Century. The Chapel was demolished in 1851, so the remarkable funeral rites must have taken place some time between those dates.

The Place:

Farciennes is a small place, which can be found not far to the East of Charleroi. Once you are there, it will not be hard to find your way down to the river and to the ruins of the old Chateau. On both occasions that I have visited Farciennes, the Castle was in a bad state. Two of the towers were still in a reasonable condition. But several walls had collapsed and a large part of the roof had disappeared. The horrible industrial landscape that surrounds the village and castle adds to the dismal atmosphere of doom and gloom. The Chapel of Tergnée is said to have been demolished a 150 years ago. So it does not seem likely that much of it has been left. The Museum in Charleroi still exists but it has now been turned into the "Musée du Verre".

Personal Comments:

To some this might seem to be a rather uninteresting case. Nevertheless, it is quite remarkable by its location. Belgium is definitely not one of the "traditional vampire countries", so it is nice to see how this Hungarian family has brought its traditions to Farciennes.

Possible Follow-Up:

Obviously, there are a number of things that you may want to check out. First of all, you can go and find yourself a copy of Saint-Hillaire's book so you can see for yourself if there are further facts that I have forgotten to mention here. You could also go to the library or search the internet to find out more about the Batthyàny-Waldsteins. It is not unlikely that there are portraits of the family. Try to find old maps of the region. See if you can find old prints or paintings of the castle and chapel. You can go to Farciennes and have a look at the Castle. If you do, be extremely careful for in its present state it might well collapse on top of you. Perhaps it is wiser to go find the location where the Chapel of Tergnée is supposed to have been. See if anything of it is left. And - of course - do keep your eyes wide open just in case you find those missing nails somewhere.

© 2009 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed 19 November 2009
All photos of the "Chateau de Farciennes" - © 1995 by Rob Brautigam

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