Vampire Panics: Peter Plogojowitz

Weird Tales June 1936
Weird Tales June 1936

Peter Plogojowitz (a Polonized version of the Serbian name Blagojević. Insert your political joke here.) lived in the village of Kisiljevo in the early eighteenth century. In 1725, he died, and in the days following, nine others in the village also died. Before expiring, some of them reported that Peter had visited them in the night.

The official report of the incident states, “All said they had been visited in a dream by the dead Peter Plogojowitz, who seemed to glide into the room, catch them hard by the throat, bite them hard, and suck the blood out of their wounds.”

In one version of the story, his widow said he appeared to her after his death, asking for his shoes. In another version, he appeared to his son asking for food. When his son refused, Plogojowitz brutally murdered him.

Finally the villagers demanded the local Austrian military governor and a priest be present when they exhumed his body. The governor tried to dissuade the frightened villagers, but they refused to listen, and in the end, the governor agreed, though it seems he was more afraid of the villagers than any vampiric activity.

When they dug up Plogojowitz’s grave and opened his coffin, they “found him as though he were in a trance, gently breathing, his eyes wide open and glaring horribly, his complexion ruddy, the flesh plump and full.” One other feature of the corpse, which the apparently scandalized governor danced around in his report, what that Plogojowitz also had a massive erection.

Of course, all of the things the villagers observed (including the erection) are part of the natural decomposition process, though no one really understood that at the time. The enraged villagers staked the body through the heart and burned it, and apparently that put an end to the deaths in Kisiljevo. The story, though, spread to other parts of Europe and helped to spark the eighteenth century vampire craze.

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