With the advent of such excellent literary contributions as the Twilight series and The Vampire Diaries in recent popular culture seems to have come a worldwide obsession with the nosferatu. The positive following resulting from the new breed of vampires marketed to pining tweeners necessitates a look at the historical basis for these fictional creatures. The idea of the vampire has been around in folklore and legend for hundreds of years, continuously gathering a deranged cult-like following (although they have previously been armed with stakes and crucifixes instead of t-shirts and fan-fiction). It is interesting that, although the following historical figures are incredibly fascinating in their own rights, vampire hunters and dedicated paranormal advocates feel the need to nonetheless add to each person's considerable resume the additional burden of being a vampire. Yet, any time a person seems to cheat death, acts sadistically psychopathic, or is just plain crazy, they are also bestowed the honor of vampire.
1. Vlad III the Impaler (Nov 1431-Dec 1476)
Often the go-to guy for historical vampirology, Vlad provided the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula (although he has little resemblance to the Gothic villain provided by the novel, aside from his nickname Dracula--in fact, it seems, through his diaries, that Stoker knew very little about the historical figure whose name he used). Vlad was the Prince of Wallachia, imprisoned at the age of eleven as a hostage proving his father's loyalty to the Ottoman Sultan (and insurance that Wallachia would pay it's annual tribute money). It was here he cultivated his hate for the Turks, which would come in handy on his maniacal murder campaign later in his life. Upon returning to the throne of his war-ravaged country, he began enacting a rather harsh methodology for restoring order. Vlad's- fabulous work history proved incredibly helpful as he began wreaking revenge on the people who had killed his father and brother, and also waging a holy crusade under command of Pope Pius III against the Ottoman empire. Vlad wrote to his sometimes cohort, sometimes betrayer Matthias Corvinus, in 1461, "I have killed men and women, old and young...23,884 Turks and Belgians, without counting those whom we burned alive in their homes or whose heads were not chopped off by our soldiers." This lovely quote is actually quite tame considering Vlad's other pastimes, which included: impaling people on sharpened pikes, dining in his Forest of the Impaled amongst the decaying bodies of his victims, torture of all sorts, and burning, skinning, roasting, or boiling people who got in his way. Through sheer perseverance, Vlad managed to accrue a staggering estimate of 40,000-100,000 deaths at his hands before he died in 1476.
2. Countess Elizabeth Bathory de Ecsed (Aug 1560-Aug 1614)
Often considered one of the most prolific women serial killers ever in history, Elizabeth has gained her label of vampire due to the alleged fact that she bathed in the blood of virgins to retain her youth, thus gaining her nicknames "The Blood Countess" and "The Bloody Lady of Cachtice." Although this detail of her sadistic serial murder career is in dispute, the facts of the case brought against her more than make up for this gory shortcoming. The Countess was left alone often while her husband was away at war, and left to her own devices, took it upon herself to begin terrorizing the young women surrounding her. She methodically lured the women in, promising jobs for the peasant women and lessons in etiquette for those of the lesser gentry. She established an elaborate set of impossible rules for them to follow, and when they (inevitably) failed to follow her code, delighted in punishing them in new and interesting ways. These included, but were not limited to, severe beatings, burning and/or mutilation of the hands, face, or genitalia, eating the women's flesh, biting their faces or arms, dousing them in water and sending them out in the snow to freeze, performing amateur botched surgery on them, starving, and sexual abuse. Her husband, although often away, delighted in his wife's ingenuity, and in fact made suggestions on how she might innovate on her practices (i.e. covering the girl in honey in the middle of summer and tying her down outside to be bitten by insects). In all, Elizabeth managed to kill, by account of a register written in her hand, and found by investigators, a whopping 650 women before she was caught. Her four accomplices were tried and killed on the spot, but the Countess escaped this fate because of her family name. She was placed under house arrest, and died four years later.
3/4. Arnold Paole (d. 1726) and Peter Plogojowitz (d. 1725)
The duo are so eerily similar, it makes you think that someone might have copy-pasted one story into a different village, and both provide the earliest, most well-documented cases of sensational vampire hysteria. Arnold was a Serbian outlaw, who allegedly killed sixteen people postmortem in his village of Meduegna. Peter was a Serbian peasant who night-stalked about nine people in his village of Kisilova. Both deaths precluded a sudden spate of mysterious 24 hour illnesses in their respective villages, and thus were automatically assumed to be vampires, preying on their fellow villagers. Both men had claimed to have been previously attacked by vampires, and both claimed to have followed all the precautionary measures after such an attack--bathing in the blood of the vampire, and eating the dirt from his grave. Following the attribution of the attacks to vampirism, the villagers went into mass-hysteria mode, demanding that both the bodies be exhumed for examination. The documentation of the Austrian police who became involved allows a thorough understanding of what happened to poor Arnold and Peter after they had been targeted. In Arnold's case, Contagious Medicus Glaser (essentially, an infectious disease specialist) studied the mysterious deaths, and concluded that they were resultant of the malnutrition in his area, as well as the unhealthful effects of severe Eastern Orthodox fasting. However, the villagers weren't having it, and insisted on digging up the bodies. Glaser's observations proving Arnold's vampirism, and the extremely similar ones made in Peter's case, have been proven to be merely the observations of a decomposing body, including hair, nail, and toenail growth (skin sagging back or peeling off), the bodies were engorged, presumably on blood (bloating), and there remained "fresh" uncoagulated blood at the mouth (a possibility in decomposition, or perhaps bodily fluids). Peter's body was sprang on, staked, and burned. Arnold's was decapitated and burned.
5. Grigori Rasputin (Jan 1869-Dec 1916)
Rasputin was a trusted advisor to the last of the Romanovs, most especially the Tsaritsa Alexandra. He came to this position because of his alleged ability to magically cure the hemophilia of Tsarevitch Alexei (probably not as good as it sounds..he seems to have been able to calm him down when he cut himself, and to have ordered to halt administration of aspirin, an anticoagulant). He was a religious zealot who also had a penchant for drinking, sexual promiscuity, and accepting bribes. Although his life is filled with bizarre details (including the fact that his daughter wrote in her autobiography of his longer than normal penis..what?), the vampire attachment for Rasputin stems from the miraculous events immediately precluding his death. Having been targeted by the government because of his dangerous influence with Alexandra, Rasputin was invited to a dinner with government officials, including the Princess Irena. In reality, the assassination attempt was led by Prince Felix Yusopov, her husband. The dinner began with red wine and cakes, laced liberally with cyanide. Rasputin, however, remained unaffected by the cyanide. Yusopov began to be worried that Rasputin would take too long to die, and brought out a revolver, shooting Rasputin in the back multiple times. Thinking the job was over, Yusopov and others left the house for better entertainment. Yusopov returned later, for a jacket, only to be attacked by the still living Rasputin (who apparently, creepily whispered in Yusopov's ear "You bad boy"). Before Rasputin could finish his strangulation of the Prince, the other conspirators entered and repeatedly shot and bludgeoned the persevering Rasputin. Not taking an more chances, the conspirators tied up Rasputin, wrapped him in a rug, and threw him in to the Neva River. His body was found on December 19, three days after the assassination, free from the rug and all bindings. The coroner found the cause of death to be...drowning.Author: Alex Wayson Copyrighted © paranormalhaze.com
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