Incomplete List of Historical Documents Dealing with Rumours and Folklore Concerning Vampirism


First of all, Gerard van Swieten’s text, and a book van Swieten mentions:


A) Gerard van Swieten: „Vampyrismus“ (1755/56) in: Anonymus. Abhandlung des Daseyns der Gespenster (1768).

“Vampyrismus” is the German translation of van Swieten’s report. He originally wrote that report in French, possibly under the title Sur la prétendue magie posthume, but I am not entirely sure about that. The Italian translation of 1756 is called: Considerazione intorno alla pretesa Magia Postuma presentata al supremo Direttorio di Vienna dal Signor Barone Gerardo Van-Swieten Archiatro delle Cesaree Maestà, e Prefetto della loro Bibliotheca. Dal Francese nell’Italiano recata con annotazioni del traduttore. (Roveredo ai 26. Ottobre 1756).

You can find my own attempt at an English translation here.


B) Explicitly mentioned by van Swieten in his text is the following book:

Voyage au Levant par Mr. Tournefort. This book is divided into letters rather than chapters, and the vampirism story van Swieten was interested in is (according to him) contained in the third letter.





All of the following are referred to in a 1768 print of van Swieten’s report, and therefore all published before that year. I am not sure if all these books and documents have survived to this day, or if all of them can be properly identified. It is difficult for me to tell (and it is a moot point anyway), which of these are recommended by the German publisher, and which by the Italian translator whose work he has apparently quarried. I will therefore only refer to the “source” of the recommendation as “X”. I’ve occasionally added more information where I could find some.



1) French clergyman Augustin Calmet wrote about vampires, in a work called Dissertations sur les apparitions des anges, des démons et des esprits. Et sur les revenans et vampires. De Hongrie, de Boheme, de Moravie et de Silesie. The French original was first published in 1746, and was later translated into all important European languages. The German translation is called Gelehrte Verhandlung der Materi von Erscheinungen der Geisteren, und denen Vampiren in Ungarn, Mähren etc… – according to the German Wikipedia, it was published in 1749, according to X it was in 1751.

Calmet tried to explain all these alleged supernatural occurrences on a strictly theological basis, and was widely criticised at the time by enlightened scientists and philosophers. But he also received much praise and encouragement, so he later expanded the work in question, under the new title Traité sur les apparitions des esprits et sur les vampires ou les revenans de Hongrie, de Moravie, &c. According to Wikipedia (en), Calmet was considering the possibility that vampires are real.


[sidenote 1: According to X, a P. Slivyski (clergyman and “supervisor of the Polish mission”) wrote a letter to Calmet on February 3rd 1745. Apparently this letter contains tales of vampirism, and Calmet mentions this letter in his book, but it is not clear to me if the contents of this letter are given in the book in full.]


[side-note 2: According to X, chapter 57 of the book contains the story of a Baron of Tusseng (or Tousiaint [possibly Toussaint?]), from Lorraine, who on August 3rd 1746 wrote a letter to Calmet from Vienna, stating that in 1732, the Emperor had sent for various court documents relating to vampirism investigations in Moravia.]



2) According to X, in 1693 and 1694, a newspaper by the name of Mercurius has written reports about cases of vampirism in Poland.



3) According to X, a clergyman by the name of Langlet or Lenglet has written a treatise which in German bears the title Historische und dogmatische Abhandlung über besondere Erscheinungen, Gesichter, und Offenbarungen. Apparently, this treatise also contained information about vampires. I could not identify the author or find the work, but the Latin title of the work apparently contains the phrase “de apparitione spectrorum”. I assume that the person in question is Nicolas Lenglet Du Fresnoy, who has written (amongst other things) the following work from 1751: Traité historique et dogmatique sur les apparitions, les visions & les révélations particulières. Avec des observations sur les dissertations du R.P. Dom Calmet, abbé de Senones, sur les apparitions & les revenans.



4) According to X, a Dutch writer or publication, known by the French name Le Glaneur, has written in 1732 about cases in Siebenbürgen (Transylvania).



5) X refers to something he calls “jüdische Sendschreiben”, which hail from 1738, and which according to him also describe the 1732 cases from Siebenbürgen (Transylvania). Later on, a reference is made to the Lettres Juives of Jean-Baptiste de Boyer, Marquis d’Argens, and since these have been published in The Hague from 1738 onwards, I assume that these are the very same as these “jüdische Sendschreiben”.



6) According to X, a Johann Christoph Herenberg wrote a book in 1733 called Philosophiæ, & christianæ cogitationes de Vampyris. It seems possible that “Herenberg” is a misspelling or a spelling variant of “Harenberg” (that’s the spelling on Wikipedia (en)).



7) Girolamo Tartarotti’s Congresso notturno delle Lamie (1748/50), a work about witchcraft, contains – according to X – also some passages about vampires.


8) Carl Ferdinand von Schertz, a Silesian baron and lawyer, wrote a book titled Magia Posthuma. According to X, it was published in 1706; other sources speak of 1704. He talks in his book about cases in Moravia, where the dead had reportedly returned to haunt the living.



9) According to X, Pope Benedict XIV wrote a short history of vampirism in Hungary, Moravia and Silesia. And about unrotten bodies. This work is referred to in abbreviated Latin as “Vid. Opera de Canonizatione Sanct. vel Dissertationes Benedicti XIV. P. M. extractas ex dictis operibus. Venet. 1752. Vid. Dissert. 5. §. 4. Vol. 3. ubi de Vanitate Vampyrorum. Et Diss. 14. Vol. 3. de incorrupt. Cadav.” Wikipedia cites the name “De servorum Dei beatificatione et sanctorum canonizatione” when referring to the pope’s discourse about vampires.



further sources:


– Wikipedia lists some of the early writings about vampires:


– and there is the excellent (but unfortunately no longer updated) blog by Niels Petersen, which contains a wealth of information about the writings (and writers) of that era: