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la Penne-sur-Huveaune
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The Source:

Jessie Adelaide Middleton:
"Another Grey Ghost Book"
London, 1914

Montague Summers:
"The Vampire in Europe"
Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co, London, 1929

G.L. van Roosbroeck:
"Montague Summers, The Vampire in Europe, N.Y., Dutton Co., 1929, 330 pp."
in: "The Romanic review", 1930

The Case:

A French aristocrat, le Vicomte de Moriève, survived the French Revolution. By way of revenge on the lower classes, he started to decapitate the workers on his estate. Until someone killed him. After his death young children started dying with vampirical puncture marks on their throats. This went on for 72 years. Then the Vicomte's grandson inherited the estate. He heard the stories and with the help of a priest and a specialist in such cases, he opened the coffin of the old Moriève. Whose body was found "quite fresh and free from decomposition". A whitethorn was driven through the heart of the monster and the corpse was cremated at the seaside.

Ok, so if you have not read the over-published story of the Vicomte de Moriève, go find it elsewhere. The only reason that I am adding it here is because there are people who think that it is based on true facts.

The Date:

Let us just file this as supposed to have happened in the 19th Century.

The Place:

I have been looking in all kinds of places but the only concrete thing that I could find is a one-line mention of a tiny stream of water in Normandy that is - or was - called the Moriève. Middleton says that the vampire was cremated on the seaside. Well, there is plenty of seaside in Normandy. So supposing that there is any historical foundation for this tale, I think Normandy may be the best place for you to start looking.

Personal Comments:

More than once I have been asked for my opinion about the "de Moriève story". If you want my personal opinion, from the first time I have read it - first in Montague Summers, then in the original Middleton version - I felt that it was a most unlikely story, and most probably a fabrication.

And then I found a review of Montague Summers' "The Vampire in Europe" by G. L. van Roosbroeck of Columbia University. Which is nice because it means that I am not the only one who has doubts about the authenticity of this vampire tale. Allow me to quote some of Mr. van Roosbroeck's opinions.

"While neglecting important literary sources, Mr. Summers narrates a number of stories that are open to grave doubt on quite different grounds than unbelief in vampirism. The "authentic" story of an eighteenth century French Viscount de Moriève who was a vampire living secretly on human blood, sounds much like one of the popular thrillers of a century ago."

And so it does, I am happy to agree.

"It was found that the old viscount had come originally from Persia, where he married an Indian wife, and afterwards took up his residence in France, where he became a naturalized subject. The vampiric taint was in his blood".

Maybe so, but Mr. van Roosbroeck does not approve of such nonesense.

"Any one in possession of even the most elementary notions of French history knows that under the reign of Louis XVI it was impossible for a Persian to become a French subject and a "naturalized" French viscount to boot! Such stories are evidently poor inventions of semi-literate hackwriters, - a truth for which all demonstration was superfluous from the start."

Sadly my elementary notions of French history do not help me here. So I can not confirm the first part of Mr. van Roosbroeck's statement. But I like to think that after 40 plus years of looking into vampire cases I can smell out the difference between fiction and non-fiction.

Possible Follow-Up:

I suggest you find and read the story, in "The Vampire in Europe" or "Another Grey Ghost Book" or any place else you can find it. See what else you can find out about the mysterious de Moriève. And of course it is completely up to you to make your own decision if this is truth or fiction.

© 2014 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed December 2014

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