5 Historical "Vampires"

Posted on 06/01/2010
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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)

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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.

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