WWW.SHROUDEATER.COM - The Vampire of Split - CROATIA
"A Story About A Vampire"
in: "Middlesex Illustrated Times", October 20, 1855
"A German paper relates a curious instance of this popular superstition which recently occurred in Spalato, in Dalmatia: -
A young and beautiful girl, the daughter of wealthy peasants, had numerous suitors and from amongst them she selected one of her own station of life. The bethrothal of the young couple was celebrated by a grand feast, given by the girl's father. Towards midnight, the girl and her mother retired to their chamber, leaving their father and the guests at table. All at once the women were heard to shriek dreadfully, and the moment after, the mother, pale and haggard, tottered into the room, carrying her daughter senseless in her arms, and crying, in a voice of indescribable agony, "A vampire ! a vampire ! my daughter is dead !" The village doctor happened to be amongst the guests and he, seeing that the girl had only fainted, administered to her a cordial, which restored her to consciousness; and he then questioned her. She stated that as she was undressing, a pale spectre, dressed in a shroud, had glided in by the window, rushed on her, and bitten her in the throat - after which, he had disappeared, and she added that she had recognised him as one Krysnewsky, a rejected suitor of hers, who had died a fortnight before. The doctor attempted to persuade the girl that she must be labouring under some delusion, but she persisted in her story. The parents and all the guests unhesitatingly believed that she had really been bitten by a vampire, and they were very angry with the doctor for presuming to say to the contrary. The next day, nearly all the men of the village, armed with guns, and all the women, proceeded to the cemetery, uttering dreadful imprecations against the vampire Krysnewsky. The coffin of the deceased was dug up and forced open; and being raised on end, twenty guns were fired at the skull of the corpse. The fragments of the skull were then collected, and in the midst of savage dances and cries, were burned in a huge fire, as was the body itself afterwards. The girl was taken seriously ill, and continued to get worse for about a fortnight when she died. She constantly persisted in saying that she had been bitten in the throat by a vampire, but she would on no account allow the doctor to examine the wound. After her death, however, he took the bandages from her neck, and found a small wound in the throat, which had the appearance of having been made by a harnessmaker's awl, which had been poisoned. The doctor then learned that one of the rejected suitors of the girl was a harnessmaker of an adjacent village, and he did not doubt that it was he who had stabbed the girl. He gave information to the authorities, but the young man, hearing that he was about to be arrested, fled to the mountains, and committed suicide by plunging into the torrent."
This article, for which I have to thank Michael E. Bell, appears to have been published on October 20, 1855, in the Middlesex Illustrated Times.
Split or Spalato (the old Italian name) is an interesting old town on the South coast of Croatia.
Now when I read this story it sounded rather familiar. The cries of the mother made me think it could be a scene borrowed from "Varney the Vampyre". And then I realised that it was in fact the story that we have already listed under Varboska. So why do I treat it as a seperate case ? To me it seems like a perfect example to demonstrate the kind of nonesense we may encounter during our search. Mérimée's story was a piece of fiction, presented as an authentical case. Here, some 35 years later, we find it repeated, with a few minor changes and again being presented as a genuine news item. NEVER accept a story or report as true before you have checked things out all the way to the source, and if possible, beyond its source.
So go check out the article. And then compare it with Prosper Mérimée's fantasy story.
© 2012 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed March 2012