40 Fang-tastic Facts about the History of Vampires

Theodor Kittlesen, the Norwegian artist, characterises the Black Death as a ghoulish old woman in this 1896 piece. Wikimedia Commons

38. Evidence of vampires often came from plague victims

A final possible cause of the vampire myth is plague. During plague outbreaks from at least the 16th century onwards, vampires often got blamed. This, again, stands to reason. Before people understood disease, what else would thousands of people dying slowly, covered with wounds, suggest? Their progressively weaker state perhaps suggested they were being drained of life by someone… or something. The bubonic plague, for example, can also cause delirium, so some people doubtless imagined monsters attacking them. Intriguingly, the Plague of Justinian broke out in the Eastern Roman Empire in 541-42 AD, where the first proper vampire legends developed…