Plogojowitz, Peter

Plogojowitz, Peter

(pop culture)

One of the more famous historical vampires, Peter Plogojowitz lived in Kisolova, a small village in Austrian-occupied Serbia, an area officially incorporated into the province of Hungary. The town of Kisolova was not far from Medvegia, the home of Arnold Paul, another famous “vampire,” whose case occurred at the same time.

Plogojowitz died in September 1728 at the age of sixty-two. But three days later in the middle of the night he returned to his home and asked his son for food, then left. Two evenings later he reappeared and again asked for food. When the son refused, he was found dead the next day. At roughly the same time, several villagers became ill with exhaustion, diagnosed with an excessive loss of blood. They claimed that they had been visited by Plogojowitz in a dream and that he bit them on the neck and sucked their blood. All in all, nine persons mysteriously died of this strange illness during the following week.

When the chief magistrate sent a report of the deaths to the commander of the Imperial forces, the commander responded with a visit to the village. He demanded that the graves of all the recently dead be opened. Astonishingly, they found that body of Plogojowitz was less like a corpse than a man in a trance, breathing very gently. His eyes were open, his flesh plump, and his complexion ruddy. His hair and nails appeared to have grown since his burial and fresh skin was found just below the scarf. Most importantly, his mouth was smeared with fresh blood.

The commander quickly concluded that Plogojowitz was a vampire. The executioner who came to Kisolova with the commander drove a stake through the body. When he did, blood gushed from the wound and from the orifices of the body. The body was then burned. None of the other bodies manifested signs of vampirism, but to protect them, and the other villagers, garlic and whitethorn were placed in their graves and their bodies were returned to the ground.

The story was reported by the Marquis d’Argens in his Lettres Juives, which was quickly translated into an English version in 1729. Even though his story was not as well known as the incidents that began with Arnold Paul, the Plogojowitz case was a major element in the European vampire controversy of the 1730s.

Sources:

Barber, Paul. Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1988. 236 pp.
Hamberger, Klaus. Mortuus non mordet. Dokumente zum Vampirismus 1689–1791. Wien: Turia und Kant 1992. This painstakingly edited collection of sources on the vampire exhumations of the 1730s and related eighteenth-century phenomena is the one most important collection of sources on “original” vampires. This is the only edition using the relevant archives themselves.
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.