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Dracula is a grim tale believed to be based on Romanian legend and the morbid imaginings of a Victorian novelist. Now archaeologists, historians and forensic scientists have evidence that the legendary vampire was not modeled on a medieval count from Transylvania, but on the fate of a real 18th century bohemian princess named Eleonore von Schwarzenberg.
Bram Stoker's Dracula, in fact, once had a different first chapter indicating that he was inspired not by a man but by a woman. It opens with a spectacular vampire attack at the tomb of an Austrian princess. And rreferences in the original manuscript allude to the region where Eleonore lived, now part of the Czech Republic.
Recent excavations near the Princess's castle have uncovered the first archaeological evidence of vampire hysteria, three bodies buried in the style of Magia Pasthuma, a ritual to prevent the undead from rising. One skeleton's head rests between his legs, stones weighing down his limbs, a rosary binding his hands, another has a wooden stake protruding from his chest.
And for the first time archaeologists have done what the princess' contemporaries feared most re-opened her bizarre grave and examined it for the first time.
Historians have searched through the castle's extensive archives and discovered evidence of Eleonore's unorthodox lifestyle. Secreted behind the castle's great walls, the princess had a penchant for the occult. When she died in 1741, wasted and pale from a mysterious illness, she was thought to suffer vampire illness. Is she the origin of our vampire myths and the inspiration for the most famous horror story of all time? Was Dracula really a woman?
Vampire Princess is an ORF Universum Production in association with Smithsonian Networks. Written and directed by Klaus T. Steindl and Andreas Sulzer. Presented by Rainer Köppl. Writer - Klaus Feichtenberger. Narrator - Brad Abelle. Executive Producer - Walter Köhler. David Royle, Vice President, Programming and Production, for Smithsonian Channel.