Paul , Arnold

Paul (Paole), Arnold

(pop culture)

Arnold Paul (or Paole) was the subject of one of the most famous eighteenth-century vampire cases. In the late seventeenth century and into the eighteenth century there was a spate of attacks in central Europe that were attributed to vampires. These cases in general, and the Paul case in particular, were one of the causes of a revival of interest in vampires in England and France in the early nineteenth century.

Paul’s birthdate is unknown, but it seems he was born in the early 1700s in Medvegia, north of Belgrade, in an area of Serbia that was at that time part of the Austrian Empire. He served in the army in what was “Turkish Serbia” and then returned home in the spring of 1727. Paul purchased several acres of land and settled down to farming. Soon afterwards, he became engaged to a young woman from a neighboring farm. Although he was considered a good natured and honest person, some of the townspeople noted that he sometimes tended to be gloomy.

Paul told his fiancée that his problem stemmed from his war days. While he was in service in Turkish Serbia, he said, he had been visited and attacked by a vampire. According to Paul, he killed the vampire after following it to its grave, ate some of the dirt from the vampire’s tomb, and bathed his wounds in the blood of the vampire to cleanse himself of the effects of the attack. However, he was fearful of having been tainted by the attack. A week later, Paul died as the result of a fatal accident. He was buried immediately.

However, three weeks after his burial, there were reports that Paul had appeared around town. After four people who made reports died, there was panic in the community. Community leaders felt it was best to disinter the body to determine if Paul was a vampire. So, forty days after Paul was buried, the grave was opened. Two military surgeons were present. The lid was removed from the coffin and the witnesses found a body that appeared as if it had just recently died. What was apparently new skin was evident under a layer of dead skin, and the nails had continued to grow. They pierced the body and blood flowed out of the corpse. It was determined by those present that Paul was indeed a vampire. To destroy the vampire, they drove a stake into his body was, and he was heard to utter a loud groan. His head was severed and his body burned. Although the case could have ended there, it did not. The four other people who had died were treated in the same way in case they were also vampires.

Three years later, in 1731, in the same area, some seventeen people died of the symptoms of vampirism in a matter of three months. No action was taken until one victim, a young girl, claimed that a man named Milo, who had recently died, had attacked her in the middle of the night. Word of this second wave of vampirism reached Vienna, and the Austrian Emperor ordered an inquiry to be conducted by Regimental Field Surgeon Johannes Fluckinger. Soon after, Fluckinger traveled to Medvegia to gather accounts of what had occurred. When Milo’s body was disinterred, it had the same characteristics as that of Arnold Paul. Milo’s body was then staked and burned. An inquiry into the reason that the vampirism that had been eradicated in 1727 had returned led to the determination that Paul had vampirized several cows that the recently dead had fed on. Under Fluckinger’s orders, the townspeople dug up the bodies of all who had died in recent months. It was found that, of the forty bodies that were disinterred, seventeen were in the same preserved state. They were all staked and burned.

Fluckinger wrote a full report of his activities and presented it to the emperor early in 1732. His report was soon published and became a bestseller. As early as March 1732, accounts of Paul and the Medvegia vampires were circulated in the periodicals of France and England. Because the case was so well documented and became the focus of many studies and reflections about vampires. Arnold Paul became the most famous “vampire” of the era. It is also noteworthy that the Paul case was instrumental in shaping the conclusions reached by both Dom Augustin Calmet and Giuseppe Davanzati, two Roman Catholic scholars who prepared books on vampirism in the middle of the century.

Sources:

Barber, Paul. Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1988. 236 pp.
Frayling, Christopher. Vampyres: Lord Byron to Count Dracula. London: Faber and Faber, 1991. 429 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. Vampires in Europe. London: Routledge, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, & Co., 1929. 329 pp. Rept. New Hyde Park, NY: University Books, 1961. 329 pp.

Pelesit see: Malaysia, Vampires in

Penanggalan see: Malaysia, Vampires in