Vampire Hunters Of The 18th & 19th Centuries



Ahoy there mateys!  Welcome to this week's instalment of 'Blog Post Monday'.

I had my idea for this week's blog post all ready to go and then, while browsing the web this morning, I came across an article which was so fascinating that I've changed my mind completely!  I just had to write about this instead!

So, as always, get that kettle on, get your garlic cloves and stakes out, as we go hunting for vampires in the 18th and 19th centuries...


Image:  the vampire hunting kit - courtesy of Hansons / SWNS 


The article that caught my eye this morning was about a rather fascinating item that is going up for auction at Hansons Auctioneers on 26th September.  An antique vampire slaying kit containing crucifixes, a pistol, a dagger, two stakes, silver bullets and an axe.  The wooden box, which also includes a prayer book, rosary beads and bottles of holy water, was owned by a retired driving instructor.


Image:  the vampire hunting kit - courtesy of Hansons / SWNS 


Apparently the tools and holy objects were snapped up at an international antiques fair in Peterborough about 18 months ago and is now expected to fetch between £800 and £1,000 at auction.


Image:  the vampire hunting kit - courtesy of Hansons / SWNS  


References to vampires go back more than 200 years.  They are embedded in European folklore and superstition.  Professional vampire hunters played their part in the vampire beliefs of the Balkans.  It was believed that if someone was born on a Saturday they could see a vampire when it was invisible to others and in some places, it was believed that the vampire hunters had to be fed meat from an animal killed by a wolf to enable them to be fearless in their quests to defeat the vampires.


Image:  vampire hunters 


Croatia and Slovenia have their own legends.  It was believed that villages had their own vampire hunters whose spirits could turn them into animals at night to fight off the vampires.


 Image:  Antoine Augustin Calmet


The 18th-century Benedictine monk and biblical scholar, Antoine Augustin Calmet, documented many accounts of those who claimed to see the dead “come back to earth, talk, walk, infest villages, ill use both men and beasts, suck the blood of their near relations, destroy their health, and finally cause their death.”  These, he announced, “are called by the name of vampires.” 



One of the most famous cases in Calmet’s collection came from an Austrian army surgeon named Johann Flückinger.  He told the story of Arnold Paole, a soldier and alleged vampire victim from a Serbian village.  In an attempt to banish traces of the vampire, Paole ate dirt from its grave and covered himself in its blood.  He returned to his life as a farmer, but died soon after in a farming accident.

About a month after his death, there were claims from villagers that Paole had risen from the dead and killed several people.  Animals and livestock were also reportedly attacked and drained of blood.


Image: vampire hunters


The villagers exhumed Paole’s body and found it intact—even the nails had grown.  There were also claims that Fresh blood covered the inside of the coffin. As such, the villagers “drove a stake through his heart, whereby he gave an audible groan and bled copiously.”  The bodies of other villagers, thought to have been also transformed into vampires, were also exhumed and likewise driven through the heart with stakes in an attempt to kill them for good.



Vampire scares usually began when a person died, often of a contagious disease, and others close by would begin dying too, usually of the same sickness.  Obviously, people back then put two and two together and decided that the dead person had come back to drain family members’ blood.  And, so, vampire hunting was born, as were the gruesome practices that came with it.  Often the vampire-hunters weren't disappointed when they opened the graves: many natural signs of decay, like bloating and bleeding from various orifices, looked like evidence of midnight feasts. 



So, there you have it.  Vampires...  Just a myth, huh...?

Let's just look at the facts here.  The taxi driver who the vampire hunting kit belonged to, let's call him 'Barry', apparently purchased the kit "around" 18 months ago...  Which would have coincided nicely with the thick end of the Covid-19 pandemic...  I'm just throwing it out there, but do we think 'Barry' might have thought the Covid-19 pandemic was in fact down to an invasion of vampires and thus, bought this kit...?  I've heard worse conspiracy theories to be honest...!

As always, let me know what you think in the comments section below.



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