What I love most about modern science is that it sometimes brings forth findings that almost feel (ironically) magical! A few hundred years ago, the science we know today would surely have been considered a source of magic and sorcery. In fact, everything ‘magical’ I see as a science that has not yet been discovered. And what a validating feeling it is when you prove something truly… weird and, shall I say, magical? Like this new finding that came through just before Halloween. New findings put forth on a recent publication state that Vlad Dracula may have cried bloody tears. You heard right! Vlad Tepes III likely had a condition called Hemolacria, one that would make him cry bloody tears.
For those who don’t know about Dracula, you can read our past pieces on him here and here. He was the three-time ruler of Wallachia and the supposed inspiration for Bram Stoker’s iconic horror character, Dracula. Vlad Tepes III was the son of Vlad Tepes II who was known as Vlad Dracul, or Vlad the Dragon, as he was a part of the Order of the Dragon. Vlad Dracula simply translates to ‘Vlad, Son of the Dragon’.
So, what brought researchers to believe that Vlad Dracula suffered from Hemolacria and therefore cried bloody tears? Well, tests were conducted where the researchers were allowed to harvest proteins and peptides from several of Vlad Tepes III’s archived letters. They used EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate), a gentle harvesting method, which is why they were likely allowed to handle and harvest the molecules from the letters. This can be done without causing damage to the artifacts. They harvested the molecules and analyzed them in detail, comparing their sequences to those in a database to see what could be found on the letters.
Their findings included environmental bacteria, viruses, and fungi, all which could be set aside as not having come from Vlad Tepes III. They found 16 ancient proteins and 100 peptides that were certainly from human origin from either skin contact, breathing, and / or blood. While it is known that the letters surely were handled by many other people over the years, they attempted to distinguish the molecules that came from Vlad Dracula by distinguishing the oldest molecules found on the artifacts (and ignore the newer ones). It’s safe to presume that the most prominent and oldest molecules would be the ones attributed to Vlad since he wrote the letter and had spent a serious amount of time over it with his hands on the paper. So the biggest spike of ancient proteins found on the letters were attributed to him in the study.
The results consisted of the finding of peptides related to a pathogenic bacteria that was known to cause the plague, so plague-related molecules. Data also showed that he likely suffered from inflammatory processes of either the respiratory tract or skin and the pathological condition Hemolacria, leading them to believe that Vlad Dracula cried bloody tears.
You can read more about this new paper here!
What an accomplishment to find! While you could never find evidence that one suffered from ‘vampirism’, finding out that the figure who likely inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula actually cried bloody tears, an attribute associated with many vampires in modern fiction, is surely quite the remarkable find and one we are excited to share with you here just in time for Halloween!