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Frankenstein's Monster



Vampires are mythological or folkloric revenants who subsist by feeding on the blood of the living. In folkloric tales, the undead vampires often visited loved ones and caused mischief or deaths in the neighbourhoods they inhabited when they were alive. They wore shrouds and were often described as bloated and of ruddy or dark countenance, markedly different from today's gaunt, pale vampire which dates from the early Nineteenth Century. Although vampiric entities have been recorded in most cultures, the term vampire was not popularised until the early 18th century, after an influx of vampire superstition into Western Europe from areas where vampire legends were frequent, such as the Balkans and Eastern Europe, although local variants were also known by different names, such as vrykolakas in Greece and strigoi in Romania. This increased level of vampire superstition in Europe led to what can only be called mass hysteria and in some cases resulted in corpses actually being staked and people being accused of vampirism.

In modern times, however, the vampire is generally held to be a fictitious entity, although belief in similar vampiric creatures such as the chupacabra still persists in some cultures. Early folkloric belief in vampires has been ascribed to the ignorance of the body's process of decomposition after death and how people in pre-industrial societies tried to rationalise this, creating the figure of the vampire to explain the mysteries of death. Porphyria was also linked with legends of vampirism in 1985 and received much media exposure, but has since been largely discredited.

The charismatic and sophisticated vampire of modern fiction was born in 1819 with the publication of The Vampyre by John Polidori; the story was highly successful and arguably the most influential vampire work of the early 19th century. However, it is Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula which is remembered as the quintessential vampire novel and provided the basis of the modern vampire legend. The success of this book spawned a distinctive vampire genre, still popular in the 21st century, with books, films, and television shows. The vampire has since become a dominant figure in the horror genre.

Vlad the Impaler
Within the city of Sighisoara, Transylvania a son to the exiled king of Wallachian, Vlad II Dracul was born in 1431. Vlad II was living in Transylvania while trying to obtain support for his plans to retake the throne from the Danesti Prince, Alexandru I.

Centuries later an author by the name of Bram Stoker would use this prince as the basis of his infamous vampire “Dracula.”

There are few facts to be found about Dracula’s early life.

He spent his early years of education with his mother, a Transylvanian noblewoman with his brothers Mircea and Radu.

His true education started after his father was able to once again gain the Wallachian throne by killing his rival. An elderly knight was brought in who had fought against the Turks to be his tutor and Dracula learned all the skills needed by a Christian knight.

Wallachia had an unstable history. Situated between the Ottoman Turks on one side and the Hungarians on the other, Dracula’s father attempted to ride the middle by openly being a vassal of the King Matthius Corvius of Hungary while simultaneously paying tribute to the Sultan.

Vlad Dracul was a member of the Order of the Dragon and as such, had sworn an oath to fight the infidels. On the other hand, the Ottoman power increased and seemed virtually unstoppable.

In 1442 the Turks invaded Transylvania and Vlad II desperately attempted to remain neutral but when the Turks were defeated, the Hungarians under John Hunyadi became vengeful over Vlad’s lack of support and inaction. Their vengeance forced the Dracul family to flee to Turkish land until 1443 when Vlad returned and was able to once again take the throne thanks to the aid of the Turks.

This aid was dearly paid for though. Vlad had made an agreement with the Sultan that not only would an annual tribute be paid to the Turks, a yearly force of Wallachian boys would be sent to join the Sultan’s Janissaries.

Another portion of the agreement included the stipulation of Dracul’s two youngest sons to be held as hostages to insure Vlad’s good faith.

Dracula and his brother Radu would remain hostages of the Turks in Adrianople until 1448.

In 1444, the new King of Hungary, Ladislas Poshumous decided to break the Hungarian/Turkish treaty and launched a massive strike with the intention of ridding all of Europe of the Turks. When ordered by the King to join in the attempt, Vlad decided to try and appease both sides by sending his eldest son Mircea in his place. The results of this Hungarian crusade were that the Christian army was virtually eradicated in the battle of Varna. Vlad, his son Mircea and many others considered it the fault of the Hungarian leader, John Hunyadi’s fault and incurred Hunyadi’s wrath. In 1447 Hunyadi had Vlad assassinated and Mircea buried alive. When word of this was received in Turkey, the Sultan released Dracula and supported him in his quest of the Wallachian throne, which he was able to take but not hold.

In 1456 he made another attempt and was successful. His reign would last from 1456 to 1462. It was during this reign he would earn his legendary name, Vlad the Impaler.

Although Dracula practiced driving nails into the heads, cutting off the limbs, blinding, strangulation, burning, skinning, boiling alive and the mutilation of sexual organs, his preferred method of execution and torture was to impale the victim on a stake until he or she died. No one was immune to his atrocities. Peasant men, women and children, foreign dignitaries, monks, priests, Turks and noblemen were all likely candidates. Dracula enjoyed having a horse attached to each of the victim's legs while a not too well sharpened stake was gradually forced into the body. Usually it would be inserted through the anus and forced thru until it came out of the victim’s mouth.

There are recorded instances where the victims were impaled through other orifices, through the abdomen and even of infants being impaled while held to the mother’s chest.

The victims would die a slow and painful death lasting from a few hours to actual days. Dracula wasn’t particular about the numbers involved. He was as happy impaling a visiting Catholic priest as having dinner surrounded by thirty thousand victims from Brasov, Transylvania.

Dracula’s reign of terror came to an end in December 1476. He had launched a campaign against the Turks and was killed outside of the city of Bucharest. The exact circumstances of his death are debated to this day.

Some say he was killed by disloyal Wallahians just at the brink of winning the battle, others say he was defeated in battle and died honorably while surrounded by his Moldavian bodyguard. A third theory states he was accidentally struck down by one of his own men during a victory celebration.

It is known that the Turks decapitated Dracula and had his head sent to Constantinople where it was displayed for all to see and be assured that the Impaler was actually dead.

His body was taken to the island monastery Snagov located near Bucharest.

The Blood Countess of Transylvania
Countess Elizabeth Bathory was a lesbian who perpetrated incredible cruelties upon pretty servant and peasant girls. Csejthe Castle, a massive mountaintop fortress overlooking the village of Csejthe, was the site of Elizabeth's blood orgies and became know to the peasants as the castle of vampires and the hated 'Blood Countess.'

Born in Hungary in 1560, Elizabeth had family relatives including satyrs, lesbians, and witches. At fourteen she gave birth to an illegitimate child fathered by a peasant boy and conceived at the chateau from her intended mother-in-law, Countess Ursula Nadasdy. Elizabeth and Count Ferencz Nadasdy had been betrothed since she was eleven years old. The marriage took place on May 8, 1575 when Elizabeth was fifteen. In those days, well before Women's Liberation, Elizabeth retained her own surname, while the Count changed his to Ferencz Bathory. The Count thrived on conflict and war, preferring the battlefield to domestic life at the castle, and earned a reputation as the 'Black Hero of Hungary.

While Ferencz was away on one of his military campaigns, the Countess began to visit her lesbian aunt, Countess Karla Bathory, and began to participate in the woman's orgies. Elizabeth then realized her true ambitions, the inflicting of pain upon large-bussomed young girls. Not only was Elizabeth becoming infatuated with her specialized carnal pleasures, she was also developing an interest in Black Magic. Thorko, a servant in her castle, instructed her in the ways of witchcraft, at the same time encouraging her sadistic tendencies. 'Thorko has taught me a lovely new one,' Elizabeth wrote to Ferencz. 'Catch a black hen and beat it to death with a white cane. Keep the blood and smear a little of it on your enemy. If you get no chance to smear it on his body, obtain one of his garments and smear it.'

When the Countess became romantically involved with a black-clad stranger with pale complexion, dark eyes and abnormally sharp teeth, the villagers who believed in vampires had more reason toe be wary of Csejthe Castle. Perhaps, to the imaginative, the stranger was Dracula himself, returned from the grave. The Countess returned alone from her sojourn with the stranger and some of the villagers stated that her mouth showed telltale signs of blood. When Count Nadasdy returned he quickly forgave his wife's infidelity.

Now firmly rooted at her castle, Countess Elizabeth experimented in depravity with the help of Thorko, Ilona Joo (Elizabeth's former nurse), the witches Dorottya Szentes and Darvulia, and the dwarf majordomo Johannes Ujvary, who would soon become chief torturer. With the aid of this crew Elizabeth captured buxom servant girls at the castle, taking them to an underground room known as 'her Ladyship's torture chamber' and subjected them to the worst cruelties she could devise. Under the pretext of punishing the girls for failing to perform certain trivial tasks, Elizabeth used branding irons, molten wax and knives to shed their blood. She tore the clothing from one girl, covered her with honey, and left her to the hunger of the insects of the woods.

Soon, the Countess began attacking her bound victims with her teeth, biting chunks of bloody flesh from their necks, cheeks and shoulders. Blood became more of an obsession with Elizabeth as she continued her tortures with razors, torches, and her own custom made silver pincers.

Elizabeth Bathory was a woman of exceptional beauty. Her long raven hair was contrasted with her milky complexion. Her amber eyes were almost catlike, her figure voluptuous. She was excessively vain and her narcissism drove her to new depths of perversion.

As Elizabeth aged and her beauty began to wane, she tried to conceal the decline through cosmetics and the most expensive of clothes. But these would not cover the ever spreading wrinkles. One fateful day a servant girl was attending to Elizabeth's hair and either pulled it or remarked that something was wrong with her mistress' headdress. The infuriated Countess slapped the girl so hard that blood spurted from her nose. The blood splashed against Elizabeth's face. Where the blood had touched her skin, the Countess observed in a mirror, a miracle had seemingly transpired. In her eyes, the skin had lost its lines of age. Elizabeth became exhilarated in the knowledge that she could regain her lost youth through vampirism. Darvulia instructed the credulous Elizabeth how she might again be young. The Countess believed the ancient credo that the taking of another's blood could result in the assimilation of that person's physical or spiritual qualities. Following the witch's instructions, Elizabeth had her torturers kidnap beautiful young virgins, slash them with knives and collect their blood in a large vat. Then the Countess proceeded to bathe in the virgin's blood. When she emerged from the blood she had seemingly regained her youth and radiance.

Elizabeth's minions procured more virgins from the neighboring villages on the pretext of hiring them as servants. When their bloodless corpses were discovered outside the castle, rumors quickly spread that vampires inhabited the old fortress. Countess Elizabeth continued such practices after the death of her husband in 1604. (Count Nadasdy apparently died of poisoning although his death was also ascribed to witchcraft.) When Darvulia died and Elizabeth found herself aging even more, another sorceress named Erzsi Majorova told her that the virginal victims must be of noble birth. But even though Elizabeth tortured young noblewomen and accompanied the blood baths with witchcraft rites, she could not retrieve her lost youth. For over a decade she perpetrated her acts of vampirism, mutilating and bleeding dry 650 maidens. Rumors spread that Elizabeth headed a terrible group of vampires that preyed upon the village maidens.

Reverend Andras Berthoni, a Lutheran pastor of Csejthe, realized the truth when Elizabeth commanded him to bury secretly the bloodless corpses. He set down his suspicions regarding Elizabeth in a note before he died. The Countess was becoming so notorious that her crimes could no longer be concealed. Using the note written by Reverend Berthoni, Elizabeth's cousin, Count Thurzo, came to Csejthe Castle. On New Year's Eve of 1610, Count Thurzo, Reverend Janos Ponikenusz, who succeeded Berthoni and had found the note, and some of the castle personnel found Elizabeth's underground torture chamber and there discovered not only the unbelievably mutilated bodies of a number of girls, but also the bloody Countess herself.

For political reason, Elizabeth never attended her trial. She remained confined in her castle while she and her sadistic accomplices were tried for their crimes. Elizabeth was tried purely on a criminal basis, while her cohorts were charged with vampirism, witchcraft and practicing pagan rituals. All of the torturers were beheaded, except for Ilona Joo and Dorottya Szentes, whose fingers were pulled off before they were burned alive. The Countess was found to be criminally insane and was walled up within a room of Csejthe Castle. Her guards passed food to her through a small hatch.

The trial documents were then hidden away in the castle of Count Thurzo and remained there, apparently 'lost' for over a hundred years. Almost four years after her strange imprisonment, on August 14, 1614, a haggard looking Elizabeth Bathory, the Blood Countess of Transylvania, was dead.