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Behind The Fiction, Past
A Fiction Column
By Michael G'Francisco


Holy Cow!! Ops. I mean "Holy holes in the neck". Bloody thick, don't you think?

Author John Polidori's 1819 publication of The Vampyre should have enjoyed the credit for creating the modern day vampire sagas, but instead it seems this folklore and fascination with eternal life is held by Bram Stoker.

In 1897, Stoker penned the eerie Gothic tale of DRACULA, which grabbed the everlasting recognition for tales of sharp, canine-toothed undead ones.

Let's try to etymologize (trace the history of) the word "VAMPIRE". Research relates that such mythological beings were known by different names prior to Polidori's novel. Many superstitions of vampire legends were prevalent throughout Western Europe prior to Polidori's novel.

There are two theories pertaining to the origin of the word "VAMPIRE": one, from the French "Vampyre" and the other from the German "Vampir". Then, (it's believed) sometime after the turn of the 18th Century the words: "Upic", "Wappierz" and "Upyr" appear in the Slavic languages. It's also believed that the word may have been borrowed from a Turkic word "Ubyr", meaning witch.

It seems that Slavic and Russian mythology is laced with vampire legends. In folklore cultures vampirism has existed for millennia. As far back as the 7th Century BC, Mesopotamians' evil god was called "Pazuzu". Hebrew, ancient Greek and Roman cultures were also enthralled with legends of the undead.

The Russian word "Upir" is claimed to have been used by a priest who transcribed the Book of Psalms sometime around 1047 AD for Russian Prince Vladimir Yaroslavich of Novogorod. The priest, in the colophon, signed his name UPIR LIKHYI, which translates or means "wicked vampire".

In DRACULA, Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, he used Vlad Tepez lll (Draculea), Prince of Wallachia, who ruled there from 1431 to 1476, as his vampire character. Vlad was better known throughout his reign as "The Impaler" throughout Romania.

Heck, there have been some horrifying bloodsuckers, both male and female, back to the early Fourteenth Century:

Gilles de Ray (Rais) (1404-1440) was a French noble and a soldier at the side of Joan of Arc. Gilles served as a commander of a small group of archers under the leadership of Joan of Arc's bodyguard, Jean d'Aulon.

In 1427, after his military service, Gilles began promoting theatrical performances and lost his fortune, which he gained through marriage and the death of his wife, Catherine de Thouars of Brittany. During the time of his marriage, it's reported that he was befriended by the legendary wife-murderer, Bluebeard.

Gilles' venture into the theatrical business proved to be disastrous and he lost his inherited fortune. Destitute, he became involved with an occult leader named Francesco Prelati who clamed Gilles could restore his fortune by sacrificing children to a demon god called "Barron".

It's estimated that Gilles raped, torture, mutilated and drained the blood from between 80 and 200 young boys and a few young girls. Most were blond and had blue eyes. His passion was to masturbate, so as to ejaculate over his dying victims. The dead children were then beheaded, and the heads put in a line to be judged which was the most fair, so the blood of the fairest could be offered to the demon god.

Eventually, Gilles and his cohorts were accused of their horrible crimes, and hung in October of 1440.

Countess Elizabeth Bathory ( 1560-1614) was also known as the "Bloody Countess". Some consider her the most bloodthirsty serial killer in history. The Countess Bathory had a connection to Vlad Tepez (Draculea), Prince of Wallachia, dating to the mid 15th Century through her cousin, Stephen Bathory of Transylvania. Stephen lived on Vlad Tepez's land in the Castle Fagaras.

Elizabeth's ghoulish ways began early on in life with the fascination of Black Magic, which she was shown by a servant. It's said that she was very beautiful, became excessively vain and her narcissism drove her to the depths of perversion.

To retain eternal youth and her beauty (raven, long hair with a milky complexion, amber, cat-like eyes and voluptuous figure), she had her servant, Thorko, lure pleasant maidens into her castle. They would be taken to an underground chamber and subjected to many atrocities, which included: setting their pubic hair on fire, pressing red hot coins on their breasts, scalding them while they were naked, cutting fingers off with scissors and forcing them into an iron maiden with spikes.

As Elizabeth aged, her beauty began to wane and a sorceress convinced her that the answer to eternal youth and beauty was to bathe in the pure, rich blood of beautiful young virgins. For over a decade, her slaves under Thorko captured an estimated 650 young maidens from surrounding towns to be mutilated, slashed and drained of their blood.

She became so notorious that her cousin, the Prime Minister of Hungary, stormed her castle and, upon finding the underground horror chamber, had her tried for being criminally insane. In 1610, the "Countess of Blood" was walled-up in her bedroom chamber at Castle Csejthe with only a small hole to pass food through. Four years later, she was found dead facedown on the floor, killed by the hand of one of her guards.

Tales of the immortal and undead are deeply locked into even our modern culture. Yet, deep down we know it's only a bloody saga from an ancient text, but still we lust over the thought of everlasting youth.

Whatever lurks in the abyss of darkness beyond life fascinates those who are afraid of dying. Today, movies, TV shows and vampire books dominate the inner desires of people wanting to live forever.

So, to give those a "bloody fix" after reading this column about the immortal milk white skinned, red eyed ones: The Vampire Library web site.


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