Silesia is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with small parts in the Czech Republic and Germany. Silesians, Slavs and Germans, believed vampires were real and feared them. These entities were nothing like Bram Stoker’s fictional Dracula or those in today’s cults
Earliest accounts of Silesian vampyric specters date back to the late 16th century. One of the alleged vampires was said to have made a pact with the devil. In that time, witches were also believed to have made the same pact.
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Vampire Shoemaker of Breslau’s Specter
In 1591, a shoemaker committed suicide, which was considered a disgrace. His family said he died of apoplexy so he could have a Christian burial.
The shoemaker’s ghost began to appear during the day and at night. At night, he lay close to sleepers. Sometimes, he would almost suffocate people and pinch them, leaving bruises as evidence. Their fear was so great that They gathered in candle-lit rooms during the darkness, trying to stay awake. People asked local authorities do something about the specter.
The corpse, when exhumed, had no signs of decay. The corpse was re-buried under gallows in an attempt to keep it quiet. The shoemaker’s specter re-appeared and tormented sleepers. Finally, his widow confessed that he committed suicide. His corpse was re-exhumed.
Its arms, legs and head were cut off and the heart was removed. The corpse and all of its pieces were cremated. Its ashes were put in a sack, then thrown into a river. His specter was never seen again.
Housemaid’s Vampyric Specter
After the shoemaker committed suicide, one of his housemaids died. It was alleged that she returned from the grave as a chicken. She entered his widow’s house, grew larger and grabbed a maid’s throat with her talons. The maid survived, but her throat swelled and she couldn’t eat or drink for some time.
In following nights; the housemaid’s specter sometimes appeared in the form of an animal. After her corpse was exhumed and cremated, her specter no longer appeared.
Johannes’ Vampire Specter
During the late 16th century, Johannes C. was wealthy, influential and a Pentsch alderman. Some people, including his servants, suspected he was successful because he made a pact with the devil.
When he died after being kicked by a horse, a tempest rose up and a black cat rushed into his room and attacked his face. During his funeral, there was another storm that ended when he body was interred. After the burial, rumors began about a phantom with Johannes’ voice. According to contemporary accounts, he terrorized sleeping people.
After six months, Johannes’ corpse was exhumed. His skin was tender, his joints weren’t stiff and when his leg was pierced, blood flowed. There was a trial. His corpse was found guilty. His body was cut into pieces, then cremated. Johannes never bothered people again.
Silesian Vampire Specters – Legend or Myth?
Throughout history, there have been tales of vampirism. In 1653, English philosopher Henry More wrote about Silesia’s cases in An Antidote Against Atheism. Using More’s notes, vampire hunter Montague Summers published The Vampire in Europe in 1929 as nonfiction. Were their accounts exaggerated?
The height of vampire epidemics was in about the same era as the Burning Times, the zenith of the witches’ persecutions. Is there a correlation? Is it possible that those in power created vampires leading to a mass vampire hysteria like what happened to the Salem, Massachusetts’ “witches” in the 1600s? Why aren’t there contemporary cases? Did vampires become extinct? There are many questions, so the Medieval and early Renaissance vampires’ existence is a matter of debate.