Although it seems strange to us today, in the 18th Century, no one in the West had heard of vampires. Their discovery lead to a tremendous uproar in Europe. Early in the century Austria annexed Serbia and much of what is now Bosnia. The people in this foreign land spoke with unusual accents. They had odd customs and strange looking clothes. But strangest of all was their stories. The inhabitants of this mysterious land told tales of corpses that rose from their graves and fed on the living. They told of eating dirt from the vampire’s grave and smearing themselves with its blood to prevent becoming vampires themselves. To European ears this sounded grim, gruesome, and horrific. So of course stories of vampires became all the rage.
In life Arnold Paole was not a remarkable man. He lived along the Turkish border. By the Spring of 1727 he had finished his military service and returned home to his family farm. He worked as a farmer until he fell to his death from a hay wagon. In life Arnold didn’t attract much attention, but in death he became a celebrity of monumental proportions. Arnold Paole was the very first vampire recognized as such by European authorities.
Shortly after Arnold was buried his neighbors began to complain that he visited them in their homes late at night. No information remains about what Arnold did on his nocturnal visits but within a few days the neighbors were dead. These victims too rose up and began to annoy their neighbors. In no time at all, the village was overrun with the undead. The situation grew so dire that the remaining villagers summoned the Austrian authorities.
Five years later the Austrian’s sent Johannes Fluckinger to investigate. He sampled the graveyard dirt, and poked around in the graveyard in search of signs of undead activity. Finally, prodded by the hysterical encouragement of the terrified townspeople, he disinterred the suspected vampires. His findings shocked the world.
Fluckinger with the help of a team of investigators and a a pair Austrian medical examiners opened the coffins of suspected vampires. The first suspected vampire was a woman named of Stana who died in childbirth. She had been buried for two months. Fluckinger found her body complete and undecayed. In his report he claimed – there was found in the cavitate pectoris a quantity of fresh extravascular blood. The vessels of the arteries and veins, like the ventriculis ortis, were not, as is usual, filled with coagulated blood, and the whole viscera, that is, the lung, liver, stomach, spleen, and intestines were quite fresh as they would be in a healthy person. The uterus was however quite enlarged and very inflamed externally, for the placenta and lochia had remained in place, wherefore the same was in complete putredine. The skin on her hands and feet, along with the old nails, fell away on their own, but on the other hand completely new nails were evident, along with a fresh and vivid skin.
The investigators made a similar find when opening the coffin of the 60 year old woman Miliza who had been dead 3 months. The found fresh blood in her chest cavity. Her other viscera were, like Stana before her, in a good condition. During her dissection, all the locals who were standing around marveled at her plump and perfect body. They said that in life she had been thin and dried up but now… she was a corpse hottie?
In opening coffin after coffin the investigators found similar circumstances – fresh blood – plump bodies – nice skin – new fingernails. Vampires every one. The proof was irrefutable. With the blessing of the Austrian government the local authorities hired gypsies to cut off the vampire’s heads and burn their bodies. They then threw the vampire ashes into the Morava river.
Arnold Paole the instigator of all the vampire trouble received extra special treatment. When his coffin was opened investigators found that he was complete and undecayed. Not only did fresh blood flow from his eyes, nose, mouth, and ears, but his shirt, the fabric he lay on, and the inside of the coffin itself were covered in blood. No doubt – here lay a vampire. Locals drove a stake through Arnold’s heart. At this he groaned and bled copiously, Once their heart rate slowed to a normal tempo the townspeople burned his body and buried his ashes.
The story of Arnold Paole and his minions spread quickly. Before long outbreaks of vampirism cropped up all over Eastern Europe. At every turn a revenant was rising from the dead and creating turmoil. The outbreaks grew to unmanageable proportions. Hoards of vampire slayer roamed the countryside overturning coffins and staking the undead.
The practice of killing vampires became so widespread and disruptive that Empress Maria Theresa of Austria became personally involved. She sent her royal physician to investigate the claims of vampiric activity. In spite of a great deal of evidence to the contrary the doctor concluded that vampires did not exist. Empress Marie Theresa forbade the opening of graves and desecrating of bodies. This proclamation effectively ended the vampire epidemic in Europe. And from the middle of the 18th Century onward vampires have been able to roam the countryside freely no longer impeded by pesky vampire hunters.