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6 Truly frightening factual figures in history

Updated on March 6, 2016
Factual figures in history
Factual figures in history

Sometimes life itself can be scary, often more scary than a horror movie. There are numerous accounts in history of murderers, sorcerers and barbarians that have been used as inspiration for many movies and novels. So let me introduce you to seven of the scariest figures in history:

1. Rasputin

Commonly know as the "mad monk" who helped to bring Russia down. Grigori Rasputin's career began when he was a holy man. Although his reputation as a faith healer is where he would captivate the attention of the czarina Alexandra Feodorovna after helping her hemophiliac son recover from an injury.

Rasputin managed a secure place by the czarina's side as a close adviser. With this influence Rasputin appointed both crooked and incompetent officials.

With a con man's charm he took great pleasure in humiliating women of high society. By day he advised the czarina, by night his other life would take over. This lead to reports of misbehaviour

By 1916 he would be dead at the hands of aristocratic conspirators, who poisoned him with cyanide. The toxin didn't work straight away so the men went on to shoot Rasputin several times, eventually leaving his body in the freezing Neva River. Unfortunately his death didn't help the royal family from public disgrace, the damage had been done. In 1918 the czar, czarina and their five children were all murdered during the Bolshevik Revolution.

2. Vlad the Impaler

Vlad III born into the house of Dracula in 1431, his nick name is "Vlad the Impaler". Was ruler of Wallachia (or part of Romania) and looked upon as a folk hero in Romania and Hungary. HI nickname speaks for itself and was passed on posthumously.

Many would argue that the stories of Vlad's gruesome reputation was said to be fiction, but during the 1460s and 1470s around the time of the first printing presses. Stories were being spread about his reputation as a fierce ruler. His life would be used in Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula, but unlike Stoker's version Vlad did die and did not live forever.

3. H.H. Holmes

A notorious serial killer in the 1890s. Creating his "murder castle", a three story hotel made for murder and torture purposes.

Many of his victims were young women that would be lured into his lair and murdered. You can read more about HH Holmes here.

4. Elizabeth Bathory

Known as the "blood countess", Elizabeth Bathory was born into one of Hungary's noble families. During the 16th and early 17th centuries she would offer many young peasants the promise of a high payed position as a servant in her castle, but would go on to murder many innocent peasants.

It was alleged she murdered up to 600 peasant girls, it wasn't until she turned her attention to a young noble women that her murdering ways came to a grinding halt.

She was never put on trial because of the family's standing in the community. Instead they put her in one of her chamber's and bricked up the windows leaving a small whole for food. She died in 1614, some would say she was framed by her political enemies. Alongside "Vlad the Impaler" she is also said to have influenced Bram Stoker in his novel Dracula.

5. Jack the Ripper

In 1888 a vicious serial killer nick named "Jack the Ripper" stalked the Whitechapel district of London. This mad man would entice prostitutes into dark side streets before he murdered them.

Unfortunately "Jack the Ripper" was never caught, this was due to a lack of modern forensic techniques. The case closed in 1892, leaving an enduring fascination and wonder as to who he really was. Many thought he was a butcher or a surgeon. "Ripperology" is a phrase coined in the study of the case to this day.

6. Gilles de Rais

Gilles de Rais was known as Breton Baron and Marshal of France. He served with Joan of Arc as a special guard. His court was more lavish than the King's. Using his great wealth to pay for decoration of his great chateuax, servants, heralds and priests.

By 1440 his fortunes changed when he physically assaulted a priest over a land dispute. He turned to alchemy and developed an interest in Satanism. This annoyed the church starting an investigation into the matter where charges were brought against Rais for sodomy, murder and for practicing alchemy and satanic rites. In October of 1440 he was hanged and buried.

© 2016 Helen Bolam


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