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The Source:

Dom Augustin Calmet [1672-1757] :
"Dissertation sur les Revenants en Corps, les Excommuniés, Les Oupirs ou Vampires, Brucolaques, etc."
Debure l'Aîné, Paris, 1751 - Volume II

Muriel A.C. Press (transl.):
"Laxdaela Saga"
London, 1906

The Case:

I will give you the original text by Dom Calmet:

"Haralde ou Hrappe, Danois, qui se fit enterrer à l'entrée de sa cuisine, & qui apparoissant après sa mort, fut blessé par un nommé Olaüs Pa, qui laissa le fer de sa lance dans la plaie; ce Danois paroissoit donc dans son propre corps. Etoit-ce son Ame qui le remouit, ou un Démon, qui se servoit de ce corps mort pour inquieter & effrayer les vivans ? le faisoit-il par ses propres forces ou par la permission de Dieu ? & quelle gloire à Dieu, quel avantage aux hommes pouvoit-il revenir de ces Apparitions ? Niera-t-on tous ces faits racontés d'une maniere si circonstanciée par des Auteurs éclairés, & qui n'ont nul intrérêt, ni nulle envie de nous tromper."

And I will give you a rough translation:

"Harald or Hrappe, a Dane, who let himself be buried in the entrance of his kitchen, and who appeared after his death, was wounded by someone called Olaüs Pa, who left the metal point of his spear in the wound; so this Dane appeared in his own body. Was it his soul that reanimated him, or a demon, who made use of the dead body to worry and scare the living people ? Did he do it by his own power or with the permission of God ? And what glory for God, what benefit for the people could be made by these apparitions ? Must we deny all these facts told with so many details by enlightened authors who do not have any interest or pleasure to lie to us."

The Date:

Sadly, no date is given, and as Dom Calmet does not name the sources for this story, all we can say is that the case must have taken place somewhere before 1751. I can not help feeling that it may have been much earlier than that.

The Place:

We are told that the undead Harald or Hrappe is Danish, and seeing as how he is buried in his own kitchen I think chances are that this story took place in Denmark. Which is good news, because it saves the Danish people from a fate worse than dead: being a country with no vampires.

Personal Comments:

I admit it, it is not much of a story. Then again - despite the most commendable efforts of Niels K. Peteren and his brilliant "Magia Posthuma" blog - Denmark can hardly be accused of being vampire country number one. At least Calmet's story has put Denmark on our map as a vampire country.

I have been wondering about Calmet's "Haralde ou Hrappe". Why should the vampire have two different names ? Is this the Danish equivalent of someone named "Robert" being called "Bob" ? Or could it be a printing mistake that should be "Haralde du Hrappe" which would translate into "Harald of Hrappe". We never will know unless we find the sources of Dom Calmet's story.

Some interesting questions are raised about the way a vampire corpse is reanimated. It would also be interesting to know where Dom Calmet has found this story. Perhaps it is mentioned in the works of Saxo Grammaticus. Or maybe it could be something from one of those many Nordic Saga. There is only one way to find out.

And then there was this:

My suggestion about one of those Saga being the possible source of the tale of Hrappe turned out to be prophetic. Niels K. Petersen, whose excellent blog I have already mentioned above, found the story back in the "Laxdaela Saga". That version gives you endlessly more details than Dom Calmet's misleading one-liner does. Magia Posthuma - go check it out ! There is a wealth of information to be found.

Now the good news is that we can welcome Iceland on board as a vampire country. To be honest, we already knew that it is a vampire country, for there are plenty of Icelandic tales about restless corpses. And even though it is a long way from the European mainland - reason why we have not given this top priority - we have always been planning to add a few cases to our site. The bad news is that we have now had to remove Denmark from our list of vampire countries.

And then there is this as well:

After finding back and consulting my various copies of the Laxdaela Saga, I can tell you that Hrapp lived at a place that would later be called Hrappstead (Hrappsstöðum), which is said to be situated in Salmon-river-Dale (Laxárdal), on the North bank of the river, opposite to Hoskuldstead (Höskuldsstöðum). Time perhaps to find me a couple of maps of Iceland.

One of my sources indicates that the story must have taken place somewhere around the year 950.

And Hrapp appears to have given the following instructions: "After my death, I want you to make a grave in the doorway of my fire hall, and you must put me in there standing in the doorway, so I can keep a good eye on my house".

And a good eye he must have kept. For according to the tale Hrapp was a very restless corpse and killed most of his servants. Apparently some brave men dug up his corpse and moved it to some faraway spot. After that there was a lot less trouble, even though it seems that it was not quite sufficient to put a complete and final end to Hrapp's reign of terror.

And last but not least:

Finally, maybe it is time to remind you once more that our site is meant to stimulate people to do their own bit of vampire research. All we do is give you some basic information, just the way that we found it. And obviously we do hope that you will take it from there. We are not trying to deliberately mislead you, but - yes, that is right - we do not always give you all the information that we have. For what is the use of giving you a complete file so there is nothing left for you to follow up upon ? Niels K. Petersen has jumped on our challenge and come up with great information. So why don't you pick a case that is somewhere near to where you live and try to do the same ? If you do, please let us know, and chances are that we will be happy to give you some hints or share some of the further information that we may have.

© 2009 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed November 2014

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