Their are fanged deviants everywhere it seems, and a reverent vampire history continues to persevere through the ages. Unfortunately, so many of today's vampires are teenagers. The current generation of boys and girls who are fans of these pubescent vampires may never know what a "real" vampire is. Ok, so its all relative. One generation sees "real" vampires as Gary Oldman. Our grandparents thought of Bela Lugosi when references of Count Dracula came to their mind. While another, well, the only real reference they have might be that creepy Count from Sesame Street.
There actually is a man that modern vampire imagery is based on but it's all messed up and confusing. Wrong, actually. Vlad Tepes (1431-1476) was a Romanian freedom fighter that battled against the Ottoman Empire. Vlady was a brutal, dude. He beheaded, burnt, quartered and slowly impaled his enemies. In case you can't imagine a slow impalement, then take a Cornish hen from the grocery store, pretend its you and slowly stick a ka-bob skewers through it.
Vlady's techniques weren't all that different from the rest of the world a the time. Similar practices were employed by the English Crown and the Vatican for years. (See "Braveheart" and the Joan Of Arc story). ram Stoker did model his vampire off of Vlady T but vampire history already existed at that time. Stoker just took the meanest S.O.B. that he could find in the history texts and applied the vampire myths to him. Genius, really, but not the true history of vampires.
No, the real vampire history lies in the superstitious beliefs of a group of a mostly primitive mind: medieval Europe when people died during times when medical science could not determine the cause of death in non-violent crimes There was no CSI. When people were found dead in their beds and there was no blood or bruising then there was no "natural" cause of death. Everything was then assumed to be the unnatural work of demons and monsters. Vampires found fame and notoriety as being nocturnal monsters able to kill a person in their bed with little struggle or even knowledge that they were there at all. This launched the vampirical myths of suave, seductive gentlemen and the ability for vampires to morph into bats and be invisible.
With superstitious beliefs running rampant, and the fear of death, village and town dwellers were able to convince themselves that the dead were rising to murder and torment. Sometimes it caused mass hysteria. Supposedly, these vampires blood of the living in order to keep what little life force they had, though cursed, churning around inside them. This also why there is a coffin in most modern vampire stories.
When the ridiculous beliefs and panic gave way to action, fingers were pointed at possible bodies that could have risen and those graves were dug and checked. During these exhumations there were findings that led even further down the vampire road and farther away from rational thinking. Again, understanding that these people knew next to nothing about decomposition and science, what they discovered in some instances would have been damn creepy. Bodies do not decompose at the same rate in warm, moist earth as they do in the dead (pun absolutely intended) of winter. Also, internal injuries, gasses and the natural decomposition process can force blood from the stomach upward and into the mouth. Herein lies the true vampire history.
Imagine this: A cold, barren cemetery in early spring just as the soil is thawed enough to dig. Ten men stand around and dig with pitch forks and shovels at the grave of a suspected vampire. They pull out the tightly sealed coffin and open it to find a hardly decomposed body, maybe a little pale and gray, and blood leaking from the mouth. Therein lies the origin of vampire history.