Was the fanged dracula based on human tyrant or was he a creature from the unknown? The transylvannian vampire has haunted the imagination of the world for like 100 years, but the legend has lurked the streets of europe since the 9th century.The fanged noble came out of the shadows in 1897-in the pages of the Irish author Bram Stroker's novel "draculae" and as it is being understood Stroker based his novel on a Romanian tyrant Vlad 5, who was known as the impaler.
Vlad ruled part of Rumania from 1456-1462. In those six years he is said to have executed 40,000 people by impaling them on long stakes. No one got mercy on his courts not even the priests. He was well known too for his directness in diplomacy.
Stoker who never visited Transylvania but researched his novels in the British museums knew the vampire legends and knew that to kill an undead body a stake had to be driven through its heart. It seems that Vlad's habit which Stoker heard about from a Hungarian historian, pierced the author's imagination and vibrated a chord that has quivered the nerves of readers ever since.Stoker may have been further inspired by another bloody noble- The Hungarian Countess Elizabeth. She was the wife of Gen Ferencz Nadasdy and lived at Csejthe Castle in the dark Carpathian Mountains.While her husband was away on his numerous military campaigns, the beautiful countess gathered around her a sinister band of witches sorcerers and alchemists who indulged her in her belief that drinking and bathing in the blodd of young girls would keep her beautiful forever. At night the countess's guards would search for young girls and then they were kidnapped and brought the the countess's castle. There , these girls were hung on chains tortured while their blood was drained to fill the countess's bath.News of her reign of terror finally reached the ears of Hunagrian king Matthias 2. When his men searched the castle, they found scores of bodies hanging from chains in the dungeons.
At her trial in 1611, the countess was convicted of murdering some 50 girls. Her accomplices were beheaded or burned at the stake. But Countess Elizabeth Bathory herself escaped execution because of her noble birth, Instead she was condemned to a living death- walled up in a tiny room in the castle of doom and kept alive only by scraps of food pushed through a small slit. She died four years later still in her tomb.
There is a spine-tingling echo of the countess's fate in Stroker's short story called Dracula's Guest. In the story a man journeying to Castle Dracula and seeking shelter from a storm in a cemetry finds the tomb of a noble woman with an iron stake driven into her coffin.
The Vampire Children
Like many stories that have been absorbed by us all, the vampire legend has some medically related backing. During the little middle ages interbreeding among eastern European nobles led to various genetic disorders including a rare disease known as erythropoietic protoporphyria. The disease itself was not noticed until the 19th century, but from records of the time doctors are now convinced thatmany so called vampires were infact victims of this disease. Since sufferers rarely lived long, most would have been children, which is well depicted in some of the famous movie "X men"
The disorder makes the body produce too much porphyrin- a substance basic to red blood cells. This results in the redness of skin, eyes and teeth, a receding upper lip and cracks in the skin that bleed when exposed to light.
Doctors of that time could treat the condition only by locking the patients away and by encouraging to drink blood what they lost while bleeding. But rumors of such stories could have led to a spate of vampire stories in the region and encouraged Stoker to set Castle Dracula in the Strange eastern European land of Transylvania. This is how the legend was born.