An article published in the scientific journal Analytical Chemistry presented an unpublished version of the famous Vlad III of Wallachia, better known as Vlad Tepes or Dracula, hypothesizing that he was a vegetarian and suffered from hemolacria, that is, he produced blood in his tears. The study was conducted by analyzing biochemical traces on three letters written by Vlad III in the 15th century. According to the authors, the examination revealed interesting details about the count’s life. In particular, attention was focused on approximately one hundred human peptides and two thousand of environmental origin that were identified and isolated. But the most surprising aspect that emerged from the study, as mentioned, is the hypothesis that Vlad III could have been a vegetarian. The absence of traces of animal proteins in the letters suggested the conclusion that Vlad III’s diet was based on ripe fruits and vegetables, with some traces of fungi and insects. According to the authors of the study, although the analysis has opened new perspectives on his possible diet, further research and validation remains necessary to confirm these hypotheses and reveal more details about the life of one of the most enigmatic characters in history.
The technique used
The technique used, paleoproteomics, is gaining popularity as an analysis method for paleontological materials and cultural heritage. Scientists have the opportunity to gain valuable information about the diet, environmental conditions and even health of historical individuals by studying proteins preserved in the remains. The study also raised the hypothesis that Vlad III may have suffered from hemolacria, a rare clinical condition that leads to the production of blood in his tears. The human peptides found in the letters showed signs of degradation consistent with an age of over 500 years, suggesting the possibility that Vlad III may have faced health issues such as inflammatory processes of the respiratory tract and skin.