Traité sur les apparitions des esprits et sur les vampires ou les revenans de Hongrie, de Moravie, &c.

Treatise on the Apparitions of Spirits and on Vampires or Revenants of Hungary, Moravia, et. al.

Title page of the first tome.
Author Abbot R.P. Dom Augustin Calmet
Country France
Language French with translations in German, Italian and English
Series 2 Volumes (tomes)
Genre Occult, Religion, Theology, History, Dissertation
Publication date
Media type Print
Preceded by Dissertations sur les apparitions des anges, des démons et des esprits, et sur les revenants et vampires de Hongrie, de Bohême, de Moravie et de Silésie (1746)

Traité sur les apparitions des esprits et sur les vampires ou les revenans de Hongrie, de Moravie, &c. (Treatise on the Apparitions of Spirits and on Vampires or Revenants of Hungary, Moravia, et al.) is one of the many works by an Abbot monk named Antoine Augustin Calmet, an exegete and an 18th century Lorraine scholar of the Benedictine Order; also known as Dom Calmet. The work was published in 2 volumes that dealt with the extensive investigation into occult matters regarding the apparitions of angels, demons and other spirits but also included dissertations on various topics of Magic, sorcery, witchcraft and instances of vampires, revenants and individuals returning from the grave. This study analyzed accounts of these various topics located in the bible, mythology, cultural legends and famous accounts of historically documented cases or claims.


The work was first published in 1746 under the title Dissertations sur les apparitions des anges, des démons et des esprits, et sur les revenants et vampires de Hongrie, de Bohême, de Moravie et de Silésie after a great deal of praise and response from his readers, the work was expanded and published with Privilege of the King of France in 1751 under the new title Traité sur les apparitions des esprits et sur les vampires ou les revenans de Hongrie, de Moravie, &c. and included letters and dissertations by some of his readers and extra chapters as a response to refutations and various claims.

Publication history

(Dissertations on the apparitions of angels, of demons, and spirits and on Revenants or vampires of Hungary, Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia)
(Treatise on the apparitions of Spirits and on Vampires or Revenants of Hungary, Moravia, et al.)


The total work is contained in two volumes and the dissertation itself is divided into four parts. In the first, Calmet speaks of good angels; in the second, of the appearance of bad angels; in the third, of the apparitions of souls of the dead; and in the fourth, of the appearance of living men to others living, absent, distant, and this unknown to those who appear; occasionally adding research on magic, wizards, and witches; on the Sabbath, oracles, and the obsession and possession by demons throughout the volumes.[1] He used a scientific approach when looking into pre-modern cases of witchcraft, vampires, superstitious beliefs and various other topics of the occult. He delved into the use of the scientific method, biology, psychology, chemistry, etymology and investigated the history of various legends of folklore to determine whether a claim of hauntings, apparitions or magic were truth or fraud.

Tome 1

As the treatise as a whole, there was extensive research across a wide range of topics. The first tome mostly deals with the apparitions of spirits and the study of magic, sorcery and witchcraft. Topics also include:

Tome 2


Included in the printing of the second tome were many letters. Some were of approbation but also contained in this collection was a letter written by Marquis of Maffei that was of itself a selected dissertation on magical studies that was written in 16 chapters.


Demonic possession

Calmet, doubtful of the circumstances involved in the Loudun Possessions, made a detailed comparison to another case he believed was more true to the principle symptoms of demonic possession. The case described was the possession of Mademoiselle Elizabeth de Ranfaing, who having become a widow in 1617 was later sought in marriage by a physician (afterwards burned under judicial sentence for being a practicing magician). After being rejected, he gave her philters to make her love him which occasioned strange developments in her health and proceeded to continuously give her some other forms of medicament. The maladies which she suffered were incurable by the various physicians that attended her and eventually lead to a recourse of exorcisms as prescribed by several physicians that examined her case. They began to exorcise her in September, 1619. During the exorcisms, the demon that possessed her made detailed and fluid responses in varying languages including French, Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Italian and was reportedly able to know and recite the thoughts and sins of various individuals who examined her. She was further also able to describe in detail with the use of various languages the rites and secrets of the church to experts in the languages she spoke. There was even a mention of how the demon interrupted an exorcist, who after making a mistake in his recital of an exorcism rite in Latin, corrected his speech and mocked him.[B 1]


Calmet describes the vampire as a "revenant corpse" thus distinguishing the intangible ghosts such as phantoms or spirits. He conducted a synthesis of studies on the subject and considers that vampirism is the result of undernourished Balkan.[A 1] As Calmet amassed numerous reports on events of vampires, his attempt to refute false claims of vampirism proved difficult:[B 2]

[T]hey see, it is said, men who have been dead for several months, come back to earth, talk, walk, infest villages, ill use both men and beasts, suck the blood of their near relations, make them ill, and finally cause their death; so that people can only save themselves from their dangerous visits and their hauntings by exhuming them, impaling them, cutting off their heads, tearing out the heart, or burning them. These revenants are called by the name of oupires or vampires, that is to say, leeches; and such particulars are related of them, so singular, so detailed, and invested with such probable circumstances and such judicial information, that one can hardly refuse to credit the belief which is held in those countries, that these revenants come out of their tombs and produce those effects which are proclaimed of them.

Calmet anazlyzed many famous cases including Arnold Paole. Calmet also investigated the Lettres juives in which an account of a vampire had been recorded in 1732 Hungary, witnessed by officers of the tribunal of Belgrade and an officer to the emperor's troops at Graditz. Although the letters were published as an epistolary novel, it was widely believed to be accurate and true records by the populace at the time.

Also investigated were various judicial cases of dead persons reported to return from the grave attack and suck the blood of the living. One such case was in 1730 of a soldier lodged at the house of a peasant in Hungary. As the soldier sat with the homeowner and the rest of the company at the table for dinner, a person he did not know come into the home and quietly sat at the table with them. The homeowner appeared frightened and was discovered deceased the next day. After inquiry, the soldier learned that the father of the homeowner had died and was buried 10 years before and the family believed the man who came the previous night was the father's body. The soldier informed the regiment, giving notice to the general officers who commissioned the captain of the infantry to further investigate. The captain, accompanied by other officers, a surgeon and an auditor had recorded dispositions of the family who confirmed the soldier's report and also received dispositions of all the residents of the village. The corpse of father was ordered to be exhumed and was found to be in the likeness of a man recently deceased but with the blood-flow of a living man. The Count de Cabreras ordered the corpse's head to be cut off and to be re-entered in his tomb.[B 3] The count also received other information of another man dead for more than thirty years that was reported by family to have come back to his house on three separate occasions during meal time. On the first he had sucked the blood from the neck of his brother, the second time from one of his sons, and the third from one of the servants in the house; all three of which had died immediately after. Upon this disposition, the commissary took the suspected corpse from the grave finding it to be like the first corpse discovered with a living blood-flow and he ordered them to run a large nail through the temple then placed back into the grave.[B 4]

Reactions and scholarly criticism

Calmet's treatise was awarded numerous approbations and letters of criticism following his first publication in 1746, many of which were included in its republication and expanded 1751 version that included new chapters to answer his audience.

The treatise received 'Approbation of the King' to the 7th Register on the registry of The Chamber of Royal Booksellers and Printers to Paris on June 9, 1751.[B 5]

He is mentioned by Voltaire [2][E 1] who in his Dictionnaire philosophique explains:[3]

Calmet became their historian, and treated vampires as he treated the Old and New Testament, reporting faithfully all that had been said before him

Cultural impact

A case which Calmet researched in his treatise of a traveler who came to a village that was tormented by a vampire for three years and assisted with the vampire's destruction was later adapted by Sheridan Le Fanu in the novella Carmilla.

See also


  1. Calmet, Augustin. Treatise on the Apparitions of Spirits and on Vampires or Revenants: of Hungary, Moravia, et al. The Complete Volumes I & II. 2016. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-5331-4568-0.
  2. Hoyt (1984). '. pp. 101–106.
  3. "Article "Vampires"". Dictionnaire philosophique of Voltaire online.
  1. p. 10.
  1. p. 52
  1. p. 138-143.
  2. p. 303-304
  3. p. 329
  4. p. 330
  5. p. 579-580


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