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cass, can you not

I know we're all possibly done with conspiracy-minded revisionist historical AUs

But, from the Wikipedia entry of one highly eminent Dutch-Austrian physician and all-around smartypants Gerard van Swieten:


Especially important is his part in the fight against superstition during the enlightenment, particularly in the case of the vampires, reported from villages in Serbia in the years between 1718 and 1732.

After the last of the wars against the Turks in 1718, some parts of the land, such as Northern Serbia and a part of Bosnia, went to Austria. The parts were settled with refugees with the special status of duty-free farmers. However, they had to take care of the agricultural development and secure the frontiers so reports about vampires reached, for the first time, German-speaking areas.

In 1755 Gerard van Swieten was sent by Empress Maria Theresa to Moravia to investigate the situation relating to vampires. He viewed the vampire myth as a "barbarism of ignorance" and his aim was to eradicate it.

His report, Abhandlung des Daseyns der Gespenster (or Discourse on the Existence of Ghosts), offered an entirely natural explanation for the belief in vampires. He explained the unusual states in the grades, with possible causes such as the processes of fermentation and lack of oxygen being reasons for preventing decomposition. Characteristic for his opinion is this quotation from the preface to his essay of 1768 "that all the fuss doesn't come from anything else than a vain fear, a superstitious credulity, a dark and eventful imagination, simplicity and ignorance among the people." The report made Maria Theresa issue a decree that banned all traditional defenses to vampires being put to the stakes, beheaded and burned.


A cover-up after a vampire eradication campaign, or did the vampires paid/threatened/turned him to write that report and begin their "nah, we're all fictional, what are you, medieval?" campaign? We offer ludicrous and uniformly unrealistic options, you choose between them.

PS: I'm still partial to my idea of Mary Wollstonecraft, Lord Byron, Claire Clairmont, Shelley, and Polidori being an interpersonal-drama-prone crack team of monster hunters. Frankenstein? Leaked mission report hastily relabeled as an unheard-of kind of fiction. The Vampyre? Polidori's exasperated parody of self-proclaimed team leader, absolute diva queen, and, yes, vampire, Lord Byron (before you ask, the way he slept his way through Europe, his chances of being bitten by a female vampire were higher than pretty much anybody else's in the continent). And after the things he saw and did, I don't think anybody should blame Shelley for drinking more laudanum than tea, or for dropping so many hints in his poetry.

The fact that Claire Clairmont is an obviously assumed name only allows me to wildly and irresponsibly speculate about her actual role in the team. A possibility: succubus who had the bad luck of hitting on a vampire (Byron) hence getting herself unprecedentedly pregnant and more than a bit cross, although her expertise became of course useful to the team. Provided they could keep her from going into Byron's room at night and strangling him with his own bedclothes (documented bit: Byron would claim in his letters that she was always trying to seduce him; his teammates could never tell if this was gallows humor or narcissistic self-delusion). From her Wikipedia page, by the way: Clairmont would later say that her relationship with Byron had given her only a few minutes of pleasure, but a lifetime of trouble. I think kids nowadays describe this as a savage and probably factually accurate burn.

All in all, I won't say everybody was happy when Byron was killed during an attempt to use the war in Greece to mask a commando hit on some very old and very above this post's security rating group, but I don't think anybody in what would later be renamed MI9 was particularly devastated. The man had a nice turn of phrase, was handy with a weapon, provided a very nicely public cover to their very non-public activities, and was probably too conceited to understand the concept of his own mortality, let alone feel fear, but what a pain in the ass.