William of Newburgh (1136-1198) is known as one of the finest English medieval historians. His book "History of England" is among the most important sources of the middle and second half of the 12th century. William was a canon at Newburg Monastery in North Yorkshire, and this distance from the royal court allowed him to remain independent in describing the characters of his contemporaries and the motives for their actions. His writings on British history are scientific and truthful. However, they contain a lot of information about vampires, ghosts and elves. The famous legend of the "green children" of Woolpit is also known from his work. But today we are not talking about them.
Today we will talk about vampires, or rather, about some sinister rebel dead, and give a couple of stories that happened during the reign of the brave king Richard the Lionheart. The first occurred in Buckinghamshire, and William of Newburgh heard it from several narrators, including the Honorable Stephen, Archdeacon of that diocese.
A certain man died a natural death, and his relatives buried him with appropriate care on the eve of Ascension Day, May 29. The very next night, he unexpectedly entered the room where his wife was sleeping, and not only greatly frightened her, but almost killed her, crushing the unfortunate woman with all the weight of his body. The next night, the dead man appeared to her again and again almost strangled her. In fear, she decided on the third night not to sleep and to protect herself from this nightmare, surrounding herself with the people who were on duty with her. Nevertheless, the dead man broke into his wife's room again; all those present began to chase him away with shouts and screams, and he retreated.
Having received a rebuff from his wife, the deceased began to pester his brothers with visits and attacks. Those, taking the precaution of their daughter-in-law as a model, also spent several nights surrounded by households, who were on their guard in readiness to repel the attack of the dead. He did appear, but it seems that he was only able to pester sleeping people. Those who were awake and actively resisting were beyond his powers. Then the risen dead began to roam the neighborhood and annoy the pets, which was revealed by the extraordinary panic and anxiety of the frightened animals. In order, on occasion, to repel the attack of a terrible source of incessant danger, in every house of this town someone did not sleep at night, being in readiness for the visit of the otherworldly guest.
Charter of absolution
For a long time, the dead man frightened everyone only at night, but then he began to appear in daylight. True, few noticed him. When the rebel dead met with a company of half a dozen people, as a rule, one or two saw him, but the terrible presence of something ominous was felt by everyone. The frightened townspeople, in the end, turned to the church authorities for help, laying out their misfortune to Archdeacon Stephen. He immediately wrote a letter to the venerable prelate of His Grace, the Bishop of Lincoln, who went down in history as Saint Hugh. The bishop was just in London. After reading the letter, he was very surprised and immediately convened a council of learned priests and venerable theologians, from whom he learned that similar cases had already occurred more than once in England.
The priests and theologians agreed that peace and tranquility will never be restored in this area until the body of this poor fellow is removed from the grave and burned to the ground. However, Saint Hugh considered this method undesirable. He drew a charter of absolution with his own hand and sent it to Archdeacon Stephen with instructions to open the burial, put this charter on the dead man's chest and bury it again. When the grave was opened in accordance with the recommendations of the Bishop of Lincoln, they found that the body in it had not undergone decay and was in the form in which it was placed in the coffin on the day of the funeral.The charter of absolution, signed by Saint Hugh, was placed on the chest of the dead, and after the grave was restored to its original form, he no longer left it and did not disturb people.
Another incident took place in South Scotland. There, a certain clergyman died while visiting a high-ranking lady, after which he was buried in Melrose Abbey, in the cemetery near the magnificent monastery. The priest did not sacredly honor this vows of his order during his lifetime and loved secular entertainment, especially hunting for dogs. This addiction was so strong that he even received the derisive nickname "dog priest". And after his death, some kind of devilry began to happen.
The "dog priest" began to rise from the grave at night and try to enter the monastery. However, nothing came of it - so great was the holiness of the good monks who lived in it. Then the risen dead visited the bedroom of the very high-ranking lady, whose priest he was. He paid her several visits, each time emitting shrill screams and heartbreaking groans. The unfortunate woman almost lost her mind from fear and, fearing that some terrible misfortune might happen to her, called the eldest of the monastic brethren to her and began with tears to beg that the monks would pray for her. After listening to her story, the monk reassured the woman, since for her frequent donations to the needs of the monastery, she earned the good attitude of the brethren of Melrose Abbey. Sympathizing with her in such trouble, he promised to find the fastest means to salvation.
As soon as they returned to the monastery, the eldest of the brethren consulted with a wise and prudent monk, and they decided that, together with two tall and brave young people, they would be on duty all night in that part of the cemetery where the unfortunate priest was buried. The four of them, armed, went to the cemetery. Night fell, it struck twelve, but the monster was not there. Three of this campaign decided to leave for a short while to warm themselves by the fire in the nearby hut, because the night was pretty cold.
Now, when only one monk was on watch, the devil thought that this was a great opportunity to break the strength of the spirit of a devout man, and raised his ward from the grave, whom he gave to sleep more than usual. Seeing this monster next to him and realizing that he was left alone with him, the monk felt a surge of horror, but courage quickly returned to him. He did not even think of running away, and when the terrible creature with a terrible howl attacked him, the monk stood firmly on his feet and dealt a crushing blow to the rebellious corpse with a large battle ax in his hands. Having received a severe wound, the dead man groaned and ran to his grave. However, the brave monk began to pursue him. The grave instantly opened, and its tenant disappeared there. The ground quickly closed over him and soon looked as if nothing had disturbed it.
While all this was happening, the other three monks ran up, who were absent to warm themselves by the fire, and did not see anything. But after hearing the story of their comrade, they decided that with the first rays of the Sun they should dig up the accursed corpse and not leave it more buried in the cemetery. Morning came, and when the monks cleared the ground and took the body out into the light of day, they found a terrible wound on it, black blood from which filled almost the entire grave. The risen dead man was taken away from the monastery and burned on a huge fire, and the ashes were scattered in the wind. William of Newburgh heard this terrible story from the monks of Melrose Abbey themselves.