Ah, yes. The infamous Vampires. It’s so unfortunate that they have lost so much of their mystery as of late. I can still remember late night movies such as Fright Night and Dracula. It’s sad to see so many publishers stray away from vampire stories just because a lot of writers are trying to copy Stephanie Meyers’ baffling success. Who would’ve ever thought vampires would be a popular trend.

I want to set things straight. Below is a brief report of the real history of vampires. This has nothing to do with fiction, although I believe it would be of great help to any writers attempting a vampire related project. Otherwise I’m sure it will at least be a very interesting read.

The act of vampirism is in fact closely related to cannibalism. Since early times people have believed in acquiring someone’s ‘life force’ by eating the flesh or drinking the blood of said person (Much like the old Highlander movies). Due to the vampire’s need for life blood, he feeds off the living by rising up from his grave at night, while we are sound asleep.

The legend of vampires goes back much further than many of us believe. These folkloric beings have been feeding off the bodies and imaginations of humans since Greek mythology and the dawn of every civilization. Although the thought of vampires are seen as fictional beings to most, the recorded facts taken through hundreds of years are astounding.

A brief summary of important dates in the history of vampires:

·        2000 BC: The Tomb of the Vampire is erected in Giza, Egypt.

·        1096 – The First Crusades expels vampires from the Holy Land, Jerusalem.

·        1196 – William of Newburgh records vampire-like revenants in his ‘Chronicles’ book.

·        1477 – Vlad the Impaler, who Dracula’s character is based on, is assassinated.

·        1484 – The Witch Hunter’s bible, also known as the Malleus Maleficarium, is written, containing several pages on hunting and destroying vampires.

·        1530 – An Italian scientist named Ludovico Fatinelli is burned at the stake for claiming a biological cause for vampirism.

·        18th Century – A major influx of vampire sightings occur in Eastern Europe.

·        1872 – Vincenzo Verzeni is convicted of murdering two people and drinking their blood.

·        1882 – Vampire Riots in New York.

·        1924 – The ‘Vampire of Hanover’ Fritz Haarmann is convicted for killing over 20 people in a vampire killing spree.

Vampire myths stretch back thousands of years into almost every culture. Although our basic view of the vampire originates from Eastern Europe, it has evolved through fiction and film.

Let’s not forget Elizabeth Bathory, who in the 1610 was tried for killing almost 600 girls. She hung the girls upside down, slit their necks and bathed in their blood, all for the sake of youth. Every now and then she would drink a particularly beautiful girl’s blood straight from the wound.

Our basic knowledge of vampires is as such:

·        Vampires do not glitter!

·        Vampires hunt at night.

·        A vampire’s hunger is so intense that not even a loved one is safe.

·        They can’t stand sunlight. It either turns them to stone or dust.

·        Vampires cannot enter a house without being invited, thereafter they may come and go as they please.

·        They feast off animals or people in order to obtain life blood.

·        They sleep in coffins.

·        Vampires are highly sexual creatures.

·        They have a terrible fear of churches and garlic.      

·        A vampire cannot be seen in a mirror, perhaps due to their lack of a soul.

Lesser known facts:

·        Vampires have to sleep on their native soil, therefore traveling vampires sleep in coffins containing a layer of sand from their native land.

·        Vampires are not loners, they group together in covens or what is called a ‘house’ of vampires.

·        Placing millet or poppy seeds at the gravesite of a vampire keeps it occupied as vampires have a great desire to count.

·        The wearing of capes and turning into bats is a result of the growing fictional qualities of vampires. 

·        Vampires are believed to be more active on the Eve of St. George’s Day, which is still celebrated in Europe.

·        It is believed that vampires cannot cross running water.

The correlation between vampires and Gypsies:

The Gypsies believe that after a person dies the soul stays close to the body and sometimes chooses to return. As knowledge of the gypsy believes spread throughout Europe, so did vampire myths. A gypsy vampire called Mullo (one who is dead) was believed to return to the living and suck the blood of a relative who either killed them, didn’t give them a proper burial, or held onto the deceased’s possessions instead of destroying them. Gypsy vampires were believed to be either very ugly or missing a finger. Then again, they even believed pumpkins kept in the house too long would start moving and oozing blood.

The Eighteenth century vampire controversy:

The 18th century saw a major influx of vampire sightings in Eastern Europe. Believe it or not, government officials were also included in the hunting and staking of vampires.

Even educated folds considered the existence of vampires during the vampire attacks of East Prussia in 1721. Not to mention in the Austro-Hungarian empire from 1725 to 1734. Reports told of a Peter Plogojowitz, who died and came back to kill his neighbors. People began digging up bodies to stake and even burn. Most scholars blamed premature burial or rabies.

In 1746, Dom Augustine Calmet, a renowned French theologian and scholar, published a treatise claiming the existence of vampires. In his reports he made claim to corpses rising from the graves at night to suck the blood of the living from either their throats or stomachs. The victims grew pale while the corpses grew fat and rosy.

The bedlam only ended after Austrian Empress Marie Theresa’s personal physician, Gerard van Swieten, investigated the epidemics. Thereafter Marie Theresa banned the opening and desecration of graves.

Methods of identifying vampires:

·        Leading a virgin boy through a graveyard or church ground while on a virgin stallion. The horse will balk at a suspected vampire’s grave.

·        Handing out of garlic at gatherings.

·        Saxon’s placed a lemon inside the mouth of a suspected vampire.

·        Holes in the earth above the grave could point to vampirism.

·        Vampire corpses would show a healthy, plump appearance and a red face upon opening the grave.

·        They’d have one foot in the corner of the coffin.

Warding off vampires:

·        The use of Garlic and branches of wild rose and hawthorn are said to hurt vampires.

·        Sprinkling mustard seeds on the roofs of houses ward off vampires.

·        Sacred items such as a crucifix, rosary or holy water also works.

·        Mirrors are believed to ward off vampires when placed facing outwards on a door.

Destroying vampires:

·        Staking through the heart, mouth or stomach with wood from an oak, hawthorn or ash tree. Most cultures chose oak through the heart.

·        Burning.

·        Piercing the skin of a bloated corpse before they turn into vampires.

·        Decapitation, with the head buried between the feet or behind the buttocks. Burying the head away from the body also works.

·        Spike or pin the vampire’s head, body or clothes to the ground to prevent them from rising.

·        Gypsies drove steel or iron needles into the corpse’s heart as well as placing bits of steel in their mouth, over their eyes, ears and between the fingers during burial. A hawthorn stake was sometimes driven through a corpse’s legs, or at least a splinter of hawthorn was placed inside the sock.

·        Pouring boiling water over the grave.

·        Repeating the burial service.

·        Holy water.

·        Exorcism.

·        In some cases, the body was dismembered and the pieces burned and mixed with water. The family members would then drink it as a cure.

Even today there are still occasional vampire sightings, and vampire hunting societies still exist.

Here is a list of more recent vampire activities:

1970: Local press spreads rumors of a vampire occupying the Highgate Cemetery in London. A local man named Sean Manchester claimed to have exorcised the vampire and the rest of its coven.

1978: Richard Chase, the Vampire of Sacramento, went on a four day blood binge in California, claiming 6 lives. He was said to drain the victim’s blood, blend it with organs and drink it to stop his own blood from turning into powder.

2002 – 2003: A mob stones an individual to death and attacks several others, including their own governor, Eric Chiwaya, for allegedly consorting with vampires.

2004 Romania: Family members of Toma Petre digs up his corpse. They tear out his heart, burn it, and drink the ashes with water.

2005: Rumors spread of an attacker roaming the streets of Birmingham, England and biting his victims. Police write it off as an urban legend.

2005: Diana Semenuha is arrested for luring street kids into her home where she tied them to beds and slowly drank their blood.

2006: A 16th century female corpse exhumed in Venice reveales a brick forced into her mouth. It was interpreted as a ritual to prevent vampirism.

2010: Florida resident, Mauricio Mendez Lopez is accused of killing Macario Cruz and drinking his blood.

Whether these are the acts of vampires, psychos or just plain idiots, we’ll never now. One thing is for sure, vampires are not just confined to books and television.

Please feel free to comment on anything I've missed.

All the best.