Arnod Paole

Two years after the Peter Plogojowitz case came yet another incident that became even more famous, in part as a result of Austrian regimental field surgeon Johannes Flückinger's widely read report entitled Visum et Repertum (alternately translated as “Seen and Heard” or “Seen and Discovered”), which was published and presented to the Austrian Emperor in 1732. Flückinger's report, which states that vampires do indeed exist, focused on a Serbian vampire epidemic, the initial vampire in this instance alleged to be Serbian soldier Arnod Paole (also cited as Arnold Paul). Though accounts vary, the story goes that in 1727, Paole returned home to the village of Medvegia (also spelled Meduegna) on the outskirts of Belgrade. It's said that Paole himself told of an encounter he'd had with a vampire while stationed in Greece, which was then known as Turkish Serbia (other accounts describe this incident as Paole having had a dream). The Repertum states that Paole “had eaten from the earth of the vampire's grave and had smeared himself with the vampire's blood, in order to be free of the vexation he had suffered.” Unfortunately for the former soldier, his “cure” proved futile, and he allegedly spread his tall tale around the village — a seemingly harmless endeavor that would prove to be his unearthly undoing.

In Chapter 7 we focus on how vampires are created, and Arnod Paole is a perfect example of the folkloric vampire who's blamed for initiating a vampiric plague, especially given the condition of his corpse. What's interesting is that Johannes Flückinger's investigation took place almost five years after Paole's death and destruction, thereby basing his report on villagers' accounts of what occurred at the time.

Stake Out

Not long after arriving home, Paole died as a result of falling off a hay wagon. A month or so after his interment, local villagers made known that Arnod Paole was not going peacefully into that good night. He was, in fact, troubling them and was allegedly responsible for four killings. As with Peter Plogojowitz, these accusations became grounds for digging up Paole to examine his corpse for signs of vampirism, which they did forty days after his burial. Again, the folkloric signs of the ultimate nightcrawler came into sharp focus. According to the Repertum, the villagers found that Paole was “quite complete and undecayed, and that fresh blood had flowed from his eyes, nose, mouth, and ears; that the shirt, the covering, and the coffin were completely bloody; that the old nails on his hands and feet, along with the skin, had fallen off, and that new ones had grown.” As was customary, a stake was driven through Paole's heart, and he “gave an audible groan and bled copiously.” After he was done scaring the knickers off everyone with his final death knell, he was burned to ashes.

The Medvegia Vampires

Whereas the Plogojowitz case ended with his burning, Paole's did not. The panic his alleged vampirism caused and the resulting exhumation, observation, and chain reaction destruction of victims afflicted by vampirism gave those victims the dubious title of “The Medvegia Vampires.” The logic that ensued after Paole's destruction was such that the corpses of his four aforementioned victims should also be dispatched. But it didn't stop there. Common assumption dictated that Paole fed upon local cattle, and given that villagers consumed their cattle, they were also infected and in danger of becoming bloodsuckers. The Repertum states that within three months, seventeen individuals perished within two or three days as a result of illness. One even cited a fellow deceased villager as her attacker. Coincidence? Not bloody likely. As one would expect, all of the unfortunate deceased were exhumed, and the results of Flückinger's report are highly detailed in regard to the status of each corpse's condition, similar in many ways to that of Paole, with various traits that one in the modern-day might attribute to typical decomposition — or not. The few who were simply decomposed were reinterred; however, the majority of the Medvegia Vampires were summarily decapitated, burned, and their ashes released into the river.

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