The Freaky History Of Vampires Might Surprise You: These Supernatural Beings Originally Were Used As Scapegoats For Disease

This also explains why some of the greatest vampire scares in history coincide with plague outbreaks.

In 2006, for instance, archaeologists discovered a skull that had been buried alongside plague victims of the sixteenth century. This skull, though, was found with a brick shoved in its mouth– a tradition thought to prevent Italian vampires from exiting the grave and feasting on innocent people.

And the Germans had their own separate beliefs about vampires, too. In northern Germany, the bloodsuckers were not believed to actually leave their graves. Instead, they were thought to stay underground and chew on burial shrouds.

Nonetheless, these vampires were also believed to still wreak havoc above ground during plague outbreaks.

So, some people resorted to exhuming supposed vampire corpses and stuffing their mouths with soil. They thought that without the ability to chew, the vampires would eventually starve to death.

Then, throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, vampire folklore only continued to pick up steam throughout southern and eastern Europe– despite Pope Benedict XIV calling the monsters “fallacious fictions of human fantasy.”

Moreover, the final significant “vampire scare” actually occurred in nineteenth-century New England when, in 1892, a nineteen-year-old named Mercy Brown died of tuberculosis in Rhode Island.

Her mother and sister had already died, and her brother, Edwin, had also fallen ill. So, some worried neighbors started to think that one of the deceased Brown women might have been tormenting Edwin.

And after they decided to exhume Mercy’s grave, they, of course, saw the same dark fluid in her mouth and believed it was confirmation of vampirism.

So, the neighbors ended up burning Mercy’s heart and mixing the ashes into a concoction for Edwin to drink. The potion was intended to heal his sickness, but he still passed just a few months later.

This instance of supposed vampire activity coincided with at least sixty other known examples of anti-vampire rituals occurring in New England during that time. But, they were most common in western Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut.

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