1001-1500

HP

Highlights of the 1000’s:

Viking culture exhibits a tradition of ghosts, weres and vampires, some friendly and some harmful. In literature, the latter has greater interaction with the world, more like revenants than ghosts. At times revenants behave, at least superficially, like a vampire or a ghoul and usually are treated in ways reminiscent of the vampires of Eastern Europe, with a stake and decapitation. In the Eyrbyggia Saga of Iceland, for example, Thorolf, an early settler of the island, reappeared after his burial. Cattle that went near his tomb became mad and died. His hauntings at home caused his wife’s death. His wanderings were stopped for a while by the removal of his body to a new location. But he returned and, finally, his new tomb was opened and his body burned and ashes scattered. The Grettis Saga reported the decapitation of Karr, another Icelander, whose head was laid at his thigh, and of Glam, who was both decapitated and burned. Glam was a strong man who hated his former employer, killing his cattle and driving off members of his household. Glam finally was beaten in a fight with a visiting hero, Grettir. Ancient Danish records told of Mith-othin, a juggler who had earned the wrath of Odin. He fled to Finland but was killed by the Finns. However, in death, he operated from the barrow where his body was laid. Deaths of people near his barrow and sicknesses that spread through the populace were attributed to his taking revenge. To stop his bloody deeds, the people beheaded and staked him.

1047:

First appearance in written from of the word “upir” (an early form of the word later to become “vampire”) in a document referring to a Russian prince as “Upir Lichy,” or wicked vampyre. NOTE: This was a mis-spelling of the correct Russian word which is “upyr”.

1125-1174:

The term “kindred” appears, meaning having the same belief, attitude or being of the same creed, kin or spirit. Of mid-European origin, a variation of the word “kinrede”. Precisely when this word is adopted by Vampyre-kind is unclear.

1190:

Walter Map’s “De Nagis Curialium” includes accounts of Vampyre-like beings in England.

1196:

England – Proof of the Roman Catholic Church’s belief in its power over vampires (and hence the power of the crucifix or holy cross to scare off vampires — although more modern vampires appear to be less susceptible to this) dates all the way back, at least, to Medieval England.

England – William of Newburgh’s Chronicles records several stories of vampyre-like revenants in England. In one case, a man rose from the dead to torment his wife. After causing much consternation with the local villagers and clergy, the bishop of the region pardoned the corpse in writing for all his past sins. The grave was opened and the actual written pardon was placed over the body of the “vampire.” The people were surprised –or maybe not – to see the body was still in good condition without signs of decay, sure proof of vampirism. But fortunately for everyone, once the pardon was placed in the grave, the vampire visited no more. Note that this method of dispelling the vampire with an official Church document was remarkably more civil and legalistic than the ordinary way peasants would dispense with a vampire found in the grave – by burning the corpse, ripping out its heart, chopping off its head, or giving it the old wooden stake through the heart.

1231:

Rome, Italy – The Inquisition comes into existence in 1231 with the Excommunicamus of Pope Gregory IX (c. 1170–1241), who at first urges local bishops to become more vigorous in ridding Europe of heretics, then lessens their responsibility for determining orthodoxy by establishing inquisitors under the special jurisdiction of the papacy. The office of inquisitor was entrusted primarily to the Franciscans and the Dominicans, because of their reputation for superior knowledge of theology and their declared freedom from worldly ambition. Each tribunal is ordered to include two inquisitors of equal authority, who would be assisted by notaries, police, and counselors. Because they have the power to excommunicate even members of royal houses, the inquisitors are formidable figures. The medieval Church declares that heretics, excommunicants, and suicides cannot not be buried in consecrated ground and are therefore denied eternal rest, condemned to return as vampires to ravage their loved ones. Suicide is considered proof of vampirism. The Church declares that it can find vampires. Vampire trials like witch trials, become part of the Inquisition. Vampires put souls at risk, and souls are the province of religion. So the medieval Church begins the tradition that only a priest could destroy vampires, because the Church has the only effective anti-vampire weapons: the Crucifix, Rosary, and Bible. For many years, the number of innocent people executed for the practice of witchcraft during the four centuries of active persecution has been estimated as high as nine million. In 1999, Jenny Gibbons releases the results of her research in the autumn issue of PanGaia in which she verifies that overall, approximately 75 percent to 80 percent of those accused of witchcraft were women, but to date (circa 1999) an examination of the official trial records of the witchcraft trials indicate that less than 15,000 definite executions occurred in all of Europe and America combined. The period of the heaviest persecutions of witches occurs during the 100 years between 1550 and 1650.

1257:

The church officially sanctions torture as a means of forcing witches, sorcerers, shape-shifters, and other heretics to confess their alliance with Satan. With each conviction, the victims property become forfeit to the Church, turning the Inquisition into a profitable industry. It employs judges, jailers, torturers, exorcists, woodcutters, and other “experts” to destroy the “evil” threatening the ruling powers. It doesn’t take long before the torturers discover a foolproof method for perpetuating their gory profession. Under torture, nearly any witch could be forced to name a long string of their “fellow witches,” thereby turning the trial of a single individual into an ordeal for more than a hundred. One inquisitor boasts: “Give me a bishop, and I would soon have him confessing to being a wizard!” Another declares that the Holy Inquisition was the only alchemy that really worked, for the inquisitors had found the secret of transmuting human blood into gold.

In an anti-Inquisition work, The Jesuit Friedrich von Spee (1591–1635) declares: “Often I have thought that the only reason why we are not all wizards is due to the fact that we have not all been tortured. And there is truth in what an inquisitor dared to boast, that if he could reach the Pope, he would make him confess that he was a wizard.”

1289:

The Church in Europe during the Middle Ages comes to recognize the existence of vampires and changes it from a pagan folk myth into a creature of the Devil. The vampire, formerly a thing of evil and a pagan myth, has its believability reinforced by pre-existing Christian doctrines such as life after death, the resurrection of the body, and “transubstantiation.”  This is a concept based on the Last Supper and the dogma of Pope Innocent the III in 1215, that the “bread and wine” and its equivalent during Christian Communion literally transubstantiates into the actual body and blood of Christ. People who adhere to this belief, and who consume the blood of Christ, would have little difficulty in believing the corrupted corollary to this – the drinking of blood by evil demons, namely, vampires. However, most would balk at the idea of consuming “actual” human flesh or blood, even in a religious context, so it has to be assumed that even they would accept this notion with a grain of salt.

1347-1350:

Europe – Bubonic plague sweeps Europe. Millions, almost two thirds of the population of Europe, die and the plague is blamed on vampires, among others causes. In the aftermath, a terrible new wave of religious piety and scapegoating rises as the hysterical masses search for a cause for this great calamity. Thousands of mostly innocent people perish in the witch hunts that follow. The original plague pandemic is renamed “The Black Death” in the 1800’s. The common folk of the day call it the “Great Pestilence” or the “Great Plague”. The educated observers of the day name it the “Great Mortality”. Popular theory holds that it was caused by a bacterium; Yersinia pestis and is believed to have been spread by fleas, with the help of their hosts, the black rat. It is thought to have disappeared with the introduction of the brown rat that displaced the black rat populations. The plague (which came from the East, not unlike the vampire) may have killed as  much as a third of the population of Europe in the 1300s. Some people of the day, however, associated the multitude of deaths with vampires. Somehow they believed that the deaths were the workings of these monsters; perhaps the vampires spread plague, they may have thought. In some cases people believed a deceased relative returned as a vampire and killed a victim (who actually died of the plague). Alternately, it was believed a dead enemy could return and kill someone turning the victim into a vampire as well. Many graves were dug up and the bodies of suspected vampires mutilated to “kill” the vampire. Idiotic methods were used to “locate” the graves of vampires. For example, a virgin was placed naked on a horse, and the horse was paraded through a graveyard. If the horse (which was apparently more intelligent than the people) decided not to walk over a certain burial site, this was assumed to be the grave of a vampire. The body was immediately exhumed and mutilated to “kill” the vampire.

1408:

Europe – The Order of the Dragon is founded as an elite medieval society to honor Christian kings and nobility of central and eastern Europe who had proved themselves against heretics and other assorted enemies of Christian rule of the world. It was established by Sigismund, King of Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia and later Holy Roman Emperor as well. Members of the Order become known as Draconists.

1428/29:

Romania – Vlad Dracula (III) Son of the Dragon (later to be known as Vlad Tepes or Vlad “The Impaler”), the son of Vlad Dracul (II) The Dragon, is born.

1431:

Romania – Vlad II (father of Vlad the Impaler), ruler of Wallachia joins the Order of the Dragon and subsequently uses the dragon sign of the Order on his banners and coins.

1440:

France – Gilles de Rais (aka Gilles de Laval),  French nobleman who was a fine soldier and war hero of the Hundred Years War, is put on trial by the Inquisition and convicted on charges of cannibalism, vampirism and devil worship. De Rais had fought against England alongside Joan of Arc, and had reached the rank of Marshal by the age of 24. It has been suggested that de Rais had fallen foul of those who had been jealous of his rise to riches and fame, and that aside from his confession under torture, there was no evidence to justify his reputation for alleged cruelty, sadism, sexual perversions or vampirism that he was executed for. He later becomes the basis of the fairy tale of the serial-killing villain “Blue Beard”.

1447:

Vlad Dracul is executed.

mid-1400s:

Witchcraft hysteria and trials erupt in Europe.

1459:

Romania – Easter massacre of Boyars and rebuilding of Dracula’s castle. Bucharest is established as the second governmental center.

1476/77:

Romania – Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, also called “Vlad the Impaler”, is assassinated.

1478:

Spain – The beginning of the Spanish Inquisition, one of the most deadly inquisitions in history. The Spanish Inquisition becomes a means for both political and religious ends. Spain is a nation-state born out of religious struggle between Catholicism, Islam, Protestantism and Judaism. Following the Crusades and the Reconquest of Spain by the Christian Spaniards, the leaders of Spain needed a way to unify the country into a strong nation. Ferdinand and Isabella choose Catholicism to unite Spain, and in 1478 ask permission of the Roman pope to begin the Spanish Inquisition to purify the people of Spain. They began by driving out Jews, Protestants and other non-believers. The Spanish Inquisition continues unabated until 1834 – almost 400 years.

1483:

Spain – Tomas de Torquemada becomes the inquisitor-general for most of Spain. He is responsible for establishing the rules of inquisitorial procedure and creating branches of the Inquisition in various cities.

Rome, Italy – The Catholic Church and the Pope attempt to intervene in the bloody Spanish Inquisition but are unable to wrench the extremely useful political tool from the hands of the Spanish rulers. Torquemada remains the leader of the Spanish Inquisition for fifteen years and is believed to be responsible for the execution of around 2,000 Spaniards.

1484:

Germany – Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger’s “The Malleus Maleficarum” (“The Hammer Against Witches”) explaining how to hunt and kill witches, werewolves and vampires, is published. It is used to facilitate the murder of many thousands, if not millions of people across Europe and later, even in the Americas.

1489:

Rome, Italy – The Church during the Middle Ages gives credence to the belief in vampires, concluding that it alone has the power to stop vampirism, and then reinforces this position in 1489 with the adoption of a landmark book, the “Malleus Maleficarum” by Heinrich Kramer. This work was actually designed to deal with the persecution of witches, but it could be applied to the notion of evil vampires as well. Unfortunately many innocent people fell victim to those who used this document, and were tortured and executed for no good reason whatsoever. This book, known as “The Hammer Of The Witches” in English, was used to identify and persecute people who were supposedly “in league with the Devil”.

1499:
Nuremburg, Germany – Printer Ambrosius Huber publishes a pamphlet on Vlad Tepes, which presents him to the West as a bloodthirsty monster, detailing exploits of cruelty and gore and employing a famous woodcut showing him eating in the midst of impaled and dismembered bodies.

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