It’s the middle of 17th century. While the rest of the world enjoys the beauty of baroque and scientific revolution, a peaceful village of Kringa in the central Istria is under the siege of a terrifying creature. For sixteen years their fellow townsman Jure Grando Alilovič (George the Great Alilovič) had terrorized them, before nine brave men decided to put an end to his tyranny.
Who was he?
Jure Grando was born in 1579 and was a peasant who spent his whole life in Kringa with his wife Ivana and two children Ana and Nikola. During his lifetime he was a person people didn’t want to have anything with. His unchaste nature made his gentle wife run away to a neighboring village of St. Peter in the Forest. Separation from father of her children was hard for Ivana so she returned and they continued to live together. Other villagers feared him and sometimes he was seen walking around with sheep on one shoulder and cat on the other. But the worst thing was that during the walk he and cat would eat the sheep whole. When he died in 1656, whole village was relieved. For a while.
Risen from the grave
Like he was chased by some evil force, soon after he was buried, Jure started to rise from the grave. He walked around the village knocking on doors. On whichever door he knocked, someone from that house died or got really sick in a few days. And Jure looked frightening. He had a dreadful grin on his face, rotten flesh and tattered clothes hung from his body and he was making sounds like he was gasping for air. His wife suffered a special horror. Jure had visited her on a regular basis and raped her, much like he did while he was alive.
After sixteen years of terror and fear, local priest Father Giorgio met face to face with Jure during his night walk. Worried about everything that is happening in village Giorgio raised crucifix in front of vampire’s face and shouted: „Hear Jesus Christ, vampire! Stop tormenting us!“. When Jure heard those words spoken with such faith and devotion, he started crying and wanted to run away. Felt that the vampire was vulnerable, Giorgio gathered a few villagers led by Miho Radetić and started chasing him. When they caught him, they knocked him down. Vampire started hissing and kicking trying to break free but Miho took a hawthorn stick, put it to vampire’s heart and hit it with a hammer. Instead of piercing through soft flesh, stick bounced of his skin and Jure managed to escape. At the dawn of the next day, nine brave men went to Jure’s grave and dug him out. Despite years spent between life and death his body was perfectly preserved with red cheeks and smile on his face. Father Giorgio raised crucifix once more and commanded: „Look vampire! This is Jesus Christ who died for us and saved us from hell! And you, vampire, you will not have peace!“. They tried to pierce his heart once more but stick was once again unable to penetrate his skin. As a last resort, Giorgio performed exorcism. After that Stipan Milašić took saw and cut off the vampire’s head. As soon as he tore his skin, vampire screamed horribly and so much blood started pouring from the wound, filling the grave completely. Jure finally found his peace.
In memory of nine brave men their names where carved on a stone plate and put on the wall of elementary school.
Slovenian scientist Johann Veikhard Valvasor wrote about Jure Grando in his work „Glory Of the Duchy of Carniola“. That is considered the first written document about vampires. Inspired by this tale, John William Polidori created vampire archetype in his story „The Vampire“ in 1819. Later, Bram Stoker used that archetype to create his famous „Dracula“.
The other side of coin
Beside official, there is another story about Jure Grando that no one really wants to tell.
According to that story Jure was honest and hard working peasant very much in love with Ivana. In that time the right of the first wedding night was commonly used. According to that right the owner of the property, in this case priests from St. Peter in the Forest, has the right to sleep with the bride after the wedding ceremony. Jure didn’t want to share his beloved with anybody so he confronted his masters and they had him killed. Miho Radetić was chosen for this task so he hit Jure in the head with a pickaxe. Thinking that he is dead they buried him.
But the blow only rendered Jure unconscious so he woke up in the coffin and started calling for help. When other villagers heard voice from the grave, they pronounced him as vampire and cut off his head.
Priests forbade his burial in local cemetery, so it is believed that his final resting place is somewhere between graveyard and the church.
Source of background picture: www.tasteofadriatic.com