Cases of vampirism have been recorded all throughout time, especially during the 1500s. It was a time of fear – fear of sin, fear of hell and most importantly, fear of the undead. In 1591 that fear spread like wildfire throughout Breslau, Poland. Recorded by the seventeenth-century writer, Henry More, in his An Antidote to Atheism , is the local’s tale of the Breslau Vampire.
If you have read this post on vampire creation, then you know that it was a common belief at the time that those individuals that committed suicide would return as a vampire. It was also thought that an improper burial could turn a corpse into one of the undead. And so I bring you to the story of an unnamed shoemaker that lived in Breslau – until the day he slit his own throat. It was his poor wife that discovered his body, and not wanting shame brought to her name (for her husband’s suicide would bring her a great deal of mockery and embarrassment) she washed her dead husband and dressed him in a manner that made it appear that he died of apoplexy (a stroke).
The shoemaker was then given a good Christian burial, despite the rules against burials for those that commit suicide. As the weeks passed, the shoemaker was seen by many of the locals, occasionally during the day, but usually at night. As I’m sure you can imagine, this threw the town into a panic, especially when the vampire appeared in public meeting places.
At first the locals tried to pretend that it wasn’t real, that the shoemaker hadn’t returned, but the violence of his attacks continued and grew worse. This is when the authorities finally decided to put a stop to it all. They exhumed his body, chopped it up into tiny bits, burned the pieces and dumped the ashes into the river.
And so ended the bloodshed caused by the Breslau Vampire.