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,
Centuries later an author by the name of
Bram Stoker would use this prince as the basis of his infamous
There are few facts to be found about Dracula’s
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.