Revenant


Revenants are souls of the people who came back to the world of the living either as a reanimated corpse or as a phantom in order to torment the living.  The word revenant originated from the Latin Word “reveniens” which means returning, or to come back.

Though they are a popular part of the legends of England, there are some accounts in the history that concern a revenant.  Historian of the Middle Ages, William of Newburgh documented a story regarding an alleged revenant.  And it states:

"It would not be easy to believe that the corpses of the dead should sally (I know not by what agency) from their graves, and should wander about to the terror or destruction of the living, and again return to the tomb, which of its own accord spontaneously opened to receive them, did not frequent examples, occurring in our own times, suffice to establish this fact, to the truth of which there is abundant testimony"

In another account of William of Newburgh, he stated a man who was wicked and who died and came back as a revenant.
 “A Christian burial, indeed, he received, though unworthy of it; but it did not much benefit him: for issuing, by the handiwork of Satan, from his grave at night-time, and pursued by a pack of dogs with horrible barkings, he wandered through the courts and around the houses while all men made fast their doors, and did not dare to go abroad on any errand whatever from the beginning of the night until the sunrise, for fear of meeting and being beaten black and blue by this vagrant monster.”

There were a lot of fatalities recorded that was associated to the said incident.  So they decided to put an end to the torment of the revenant once and for all.  William of Newburgh continues:

Thereupon snatching up a spade of but indifferent sharpness of edge, and hastening to the cemetery, they began to dig; and whilst they were thinking that they would have to dig to a greater depth, they suddenly, before much of the earth had been removed, laid bare the corpse, swollen to an enormous corpulence, with its countenance beyond measure turgid and suffused with blood; while the napkin in which it had been wrapped appeared nearly torn to pieces. The young men, however, spurred on by wrath, feared not, and inflicted a wound upon the senseless carcass, out of which incontinently flowed such a stream of blood, that it might have been taken for a leech filled with the blood of many persons. Then, dragging it beyond the village, they speedily constructed a funeral pile; and upon one of them saying that the pestilential body would not burn unless its heart were torn out, the other laid open its side by repeated blows of the blunted spade, and, thrusting in his hand, dragged out the accursed heart. This being torn piecemeal, and the body now consigned to the flames.... Abbot of Burton also tells a story about two peasants who died unexpectedly, but came back as a revenant and spread diseases all over the town.  A lot of villagers died on the said date, when eventually they decided to exhume the body of the suspected revenants and decapitate their heads.  Their organs was also removed and burned. “the very same day in which they were interred they appeared at evening, while the sun was still up, carrying on their shoulders the wooden coffins in which they had been buried. The whole following night they walked through the paths and fields of the village, now in the shape of men carrying wooden coffins on their shoulders, now in the likeness of bears or dogs or other animals. They spoke to the other peasants, banging on the walls of their houses and shouting "Move quickly, move! Get going! Come!"


Walter map also managed to document an incident about a man who rose from the dead who would call out the names of those who will die.  This information reached Bishop Gilbert Foliot and recommended them to exhume the corpse and cut the head with spade, they should then sprinkle it with the holy water and reburied the remains.

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