Peter Plogojowitz a case of a mass hysteria or a real life-vampire?

Peter Plogojowitz is one of the best documented cases of vampire hysteria.  The report was described by Imperial Provisor Frombald who witnessed everything including the staking of the accused vampire.

The year was 1725, when a farmer named, Peter Plogojowitz died, and his death was followed by 9 other random deaths within just a few days.  The “victims” confessed that they were strangled by Plogojowitz every night.  Furthermore Plogojowitz’ wife stated that he asked her to give him some food to which the villager concluded that it is a sign of vampirism.  The villager demanded to examine the body wherein a priest should be present, but the priest said that permission from the Austrian officials is needed in order to proceed with the examination.  But the villagers feared that the whole villages would be exterminated by the time that the Austrian authorities replied to their request.  Frombald was then forced to examine the body without a written consent.

Together with a local priest, Frombald examined the body to search for any signs of vampirism and he was astounded to find out that some characteristic associated with vampires are indeed present.  There were bloods on his mouth, the nails and beards have grown and there are new skin tissues present.   They proceeded with the staking that caused a fresh blood to flow out of the mouth and ears of the corpse.  Plogojowitz’ body was burned afterwards.

The case of Plogojowitz became a hot topic in Eastern Europe and appeared on Viennese newspapers.  It is one of the earliest well documented cases that became a part of the vampire culture in Europe.

Michael Ranft attempted to explain the said phenomena by relating it to an unknown disease.  He believes that people who had a contact to the deceased person may have been infected with the disease that caused them to die.  There is also the case of death caused by panic of seeing the corpse.  Here’s the exact statement of Ranft-


“This brave man perished by a sudden or violent death. This death, whatever it is, can provoke in the survivors the visions they had after his death. Sudden death gives rise to inquietude in the familiar circle. Inquietude has sorrow as a companion. Sorrow brings melancholy. Melancholy engenders restless nights and tormenting dreams. These dreams enfeeble body and spirit until illness overcomes and, eventually, death.”

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