Vlad Tepes the Impaler (Dracula)
The name Dracula conjures up a myriad of dark images in our mind; late night horror movies of vampires and vampire hunters, dark forests in Romania, and tyranical leaders capable of all sorts of evil acts. Here is some background information on the Dracula from which Bram Stoker -- and Jeanne Kalogridis -- were inspired: Prince Vlad Tepes, born 1431, died 1476, ruler of the lands now known as Romania. Vlad Tepes (which Kalogridis spells phonetically in English as Tsepesh) was born in the town of Sighisoara in Transylvania (now known as northern Romania) in 1431 and later came to rule that area of southern Romania known as Wallachia. The word "tepes" in Romanian means "impaler" -- and Vlad was so-named because of his penchant for impalement as a means of punishing his enemies. Impalement was a particularly gruesome form of execution, wherein the victim was impaled between the legs -- to put it politely -- upon a large, sharpened stake the width of a burly man's arm. Vlad especially enjoyed mass executions, where several victims were impaled at once, and their stakes hoisted upright. As they hung suspended above the ground, the weight of their bodies would slowly drag them downwards, causing the sharpened end of the stake to pierce their internal organs. In order to better enjoy these mass spectacles, Vlad routinely ordered a banquet table set up in front of his victims, and would enjoy a leisurely supper amid the pitiful sights and sounds of the dying.
In addition to his title of "Impaler," Vlad was also known as "Dracula," which means "son of the Dragon." Originally, this title came about because his father (also named Vlad) belonged to the Order of the Dragon, an order formed by the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund for the purpose of defeating the Turks. The elder Vlad used the dragon symbol on his coins and went by the name "Dracul" ("dragon" or "devil"). Hence the diminutive "-a" on his son's name, Dracula. As the younger Vlad's talent for torture became known, however, the name Dracula came to be interpreted more and more as the sinister "son of the devil."
At the same time that Vlad became notorious for his sadism, he was also respected by his subjects because of his fierce campaigns against the Turks. He was a respected as a warrior and stern ruler who tolerated no crime against his people, and during his reign erected several monasteries. However, despite Vlad's political ambition, the turbulent political atmosphere of the times took its toll on his reign. He was overthrown twice (he ruled for a brief period in 1448, again from 1456-1462, and for only a matter of weeks in the year of his death, 1476.) Ultimately, Dracula died violently (according to rumor, at the hands of one of his men who was actually a Turkish spy). He was buried at one of the monasteries he patronized, on the island at Snagov.
Elizabeth tortured and murdered numerous young women, this lead to her being known as one of the "true vampires" in history. She was the daughter of George and Anna Bathory born in 1560 she grew up in the Slovak Republic, then part of the Hungarian Empire. Most of her adult life was spent at Castle Cachtice, near the town of Vishine, northeast of present day Bratislava. This is where Austria, Hungary and the Slovak Republic came together. Much of Hungary was overrun by the Ottoman Turks. This area was also split by religion. Elizabeth's family sided with the wave of Protestantism. While she was a child she was subject to seizures and intense rage. Her cousin Steven in 1571 became Prince of Transylvania and about a decade later assumed the throne of Poland.
In 1574 Elizabeth became pregnant due to an affair with a peasant man. She was also engaged to Count Ferene Nadasdy at the same time. This marriage took place in May 1575. Her husband was away from home allot due to him being being a soldier. This left Elizabeth to manage the affairs of the Castle Sarvar, the Nadasdy family estate. This was a period of cruel behavior toward those who were servants, Elizabeth's level of cruelty was noteworthy. She went out of her way to find reasons to torture and murder her victims. She would stick pins in various parts of their bodies. In the winter she executed her victims by having them striped naked and led out to the snow, and had water poured on them until they were frozen. Her husband also joined in this sport and taught her new ways to torture.
For example he had a women striped naked and then covered in honey, then left outside to be bitten by thousands of insects. Elizabeth's husband died in 1604, she then moved to Vienna after he was buried. Also she lived at her estate at Beclov and the manor house at Cachtice, located in present day Slovakia. She committed her most infamous crimes here. One of her cohorts that helped lead her to her ruin was Erzsi Majorova, she encouraged Elizabeth to include a few noble women as her victims.
At some point in 1609, she killed a young noble woman and covered it by charges of suicide. In 1610 a inquiry was started to investigate Elizabeth by 1611 she was sentenced to life imprisonment in her room at castle Cachtice. Food was passed through an opening and she got her air via a few slits in the walls. The evidence used was a list kept by Elizabeth in her handwriting noting the names of 650 of her victims. Her accomplices were sentenced to death. Testimony during her trial claimed she bit the flesh of the girls while torturing them. This is the reason for her being linked to werewolfism and folklore states if your a werewolf in life in death your a vampire.
She was also accused of draining the blood of her victims and bathing in it to retain her youth and beauty. Her records were sealed and King Matthias II forbade the mention of her name. A hundred years later a Jesuit priest, Lasylo Turoczy found copies of the original trial documents plus local stories that circulated among the people of Cachtice. With this he wrote a book of her life published in the 1720's this was during a wave of vampirism in Eastern Europe.
Lucrezia Alesandra Romanov, was better known as the bastard daughter of Pope Alexander II. Although the papal figure did take his vow of chastity, he was quite aged at the time of his induction. Lucrezia, however, and unbeknownst to Alexander, was born August 31st 1468. It is speculated that she worked hand in
hand with Cesare Borgia, who is accredited with the deaths of Giovani Sfarov, his brother, among other known figureheads. With much study it had been found that Cesare himself had a sister by name of Lucrezia. Although his coincidence is stranger than fiction, Lucrezia Borgia had valid records of birth, and death. Lucrezia Romanov, was mothered by a prostitute from Naples, with whom Alexander was said to have had a brief and fleeting affair with.
Lucrezia Romanov was well known for her fits of uncontrollable anger, and violent episodes in which she often caused great damage to herself, and her maidservants. In the beginning Lucrezia was thought to be possessed by some kind of demon, but medical technology would now prove her to be epileptic. At age 23, Lucrezia was noted to have relocated to a secluded hilltop castle in Romania, where she lived with her four children and husband Dimitri Varslovia, a wealthy older gentleman. It was not until the sudden and violent death of Dimitri and the unwarranted disappearance of her progeny that spawned the legendary tale of her possession and the popular vampiric stigma that followed. There are several stories told of a woman in black, a weeping widow that walks the hills at night seeking late travellers. Documents stated that Dimitri Varslovia was found lack of a head, and that his body was completely void of blood, and various vital organs. Time passed and with the years to come the influx of torturous tales about Lucrezia slowly ceased. She was remarried five years later to a Baron Von Zarinov. They remained "blissfully wed" for what was said to be a total of eight months.
Lucrezia uprooted a second time, and was said to have traveled to Rome. No one could testify as to the whereabouts of the Baron, but he was never heard from again. In 1501 his decayed body was found in the bowels of his estate, once again lacking a head, seven pints of blood, along with his heart and liver. A bloodhunt was called on Lucrezia Romanov and continued for months, but no trace was found of her, or of her four children. She was pronounced dead on October 10th 1502. Later Testimonies from three certifiable sources claimed that Lucrezia Romanov was unchanged and well alive, living in the eldest parts of Carcassone, France. These resources included statements from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who claimed to have played a concert in the ballroom of her husband, Prince Aleksandr Ivanovich Baryatinski's estate. (Mozart himself, has been named a vampire after years of conflict and speculation about the odd disappearance of his body from it's tomb.)
An Parisian Artist by name of Antione Louis Barye, was credited with the oil portrait of Lucrezia. Antoine Louis, was born 1795 and died 1875. The ethical modernistic peoples at the time, believed that he had merely seen this woman's other portraits-(none of which were recovered), and had simply used them as a template in his most recent painting, but Antione claimed that it was fresh and posed by the woman herself. It is said that he was placed in a secure asylum for the mentally deranged, and that was the place of his death, June 25th, 1875. The other source, Geoffrey Delacroix, claimed that she had been his mistress during the time of his wife's illness. Lucrezia's fifth daughter, Dravinia born during the time of her marriage to Prince Baryatinski, is said to have been secretly fathered by Delacroix. If in fact these statements are laden with truth, Lucrezia would have outlived both her daughter Dravinia, who was born in 1876, and her husband who died in 1879, due to the conclusion drawn that Lucrezia was killed during one of her epileptic fits, when she supposedly swallowed her tongue and died of suffocation, and lack of oxygen to the brain.
Naturally no autopsy was performed, but photographs have proven that the wounds received from a fall off a thirty foot balcony, were not post-mortem, as was stated in the original report. If these wounds received were pre-mortem then they were the cause of her death, leading us to believe that she was either still breathing when she fell, or that the need of breath was irrelevant. There is no real way of knowing which is true, and even more disturbing is the fact that there is no way of proving that she actually fell. Many have said that the widow hurled herself from that height out of the sheer torment of loneliness. This thought was probably conceived when it was found that hours previous Dravinia had herself died, leaving Lucrezia completely alone.