Baltic States, Vampires in the

Baltic States, Vampires in the

(pop culture)

The Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are three small countries located on the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea. They share a common religion, Western Christianity (with the Estonians in the Lutheran fold, Lithuanians being Roman Catholics, and Latvians split between them), and have a long history of withstanding the encroachments of their neighbors to the south (Poland) and east (Russia). They are not united ethnically, and are not Slavs. The Estonians were closely related to the Finns. The Latvians descended from the Letts, an ancient Baltic tribe. The Lithuanians derived from the ancient Balts, a tribe that moved into the Niemen River valley from the West. Lithuanian is the oldest of the Baltic languages.

Both Estonia and Latvia were brought into the Roman Catholic fold in the thirteenth century by the Germanic Knights. In the fourteenth century, Lithuania grew into a large kingdom that included Byelorussia and parts of the Ukraine and Russia. During the next centuries, however, it faded in power. All of the Baltic States existed as independent nations between World Wars I and II. They were annexed by Russia during World War II and remained a part of the U.S.S.R. until the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Historically, the Baltic States have not shown a vital vampiric tradition, although they shared a belief in revenants with their Polish and Russian neighbors.

Twentieth-century Vampires: In this century, the story of one case of vampirism in Lithuania has been frequently repeated since its inclusion by Montague Summers in his book The Vampire in Europe. The case referred to events in the life of Captain Pokrovsky. In a village near his family estate, Captain Pokrovsky learned of a man who had recently remarried and was growing pale and listless. He reported that the villagers believed him under attack by a vampire. Pokrovsky sent a physician to examine the man. The doctor discovered a loss of blood and a small puncture wound on the neck.

There was no other wound that could account for the blood loss. Various efforts did not prevent the wound on his neck from growing larger, and the man eventually died. Following his death, his wife felt compelled for her own safety to leave the community lest she be attacked by the villagers as the vampire who killed her husband.

Sources:

Summers, Montague. The Vampire in Europe. London: Routledge, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, & Co., 1929. 329 pp. Rept. New Hyde Park, NY: University Books, 1961. 329 pp.
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