By most accounts, Bram Stoker's vampire character of Dracula was inspired by Vlad III Dracula, aka Vlad the Impaler, a brutally sadistic military leader of Walachia during the 15th century. Now, scientists have discovered evidence suggesting Vlad III literally cried tears of blood. From Heritage Daily:
In a study published in the journal Analytical Chemistry, researchers from the University of Catania have used High-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) and coupling EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) technology on a series of letters written by Vlad III from the mid-15th century AD.
This approach enabled the team to characterise 100 ancient peptides and protein data of human origin which suggest that Vlad III suffered from inflammatory processes of the respiratory tract and/or of the skin, and a condition known as hemolacria.
Hemolacria causes tears that are partially composed of blood as a result of local factors such as bacterial conjunctivitis, environmental damage or injuries, but can also be indicative of a tumour in the lacrimal apparatus.
(via Daily Grail)