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Thread: Dracula, Myth and Reality

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    Post Dracula, Myth and Reality

    Most authorities believe the character of Dracula in Bram Stoker’s novel was based upon the historical figure Vlad Tepes (pronounced tse-pesh), who intermittently ruled an area of the Balkans called Wallachia in the mid 15th century. He was also called by the names Vlad III and Vlad Dracula. The word Tepes stands for "impaler" and was so coined because of Vlad’s propensity to punish victims by impaling them on stakes, then displaying them publicly to frighten his enemies and to warn would-be transgressors of his strict moral code. He is credited with killing between 40,000 to 100,000 people in this fashion.


    Origin of the Name "Dracula" - King Sigismund of Hungary, who became the Holy Roman Emperor in 1410, founded a secret fraternal order of knights called the Order of the Dragon to uphold Christianity and defend the Empire against the Ottoman Turks. Its emblem was a dragon, wings extended, hanging on a cross. Vlad III’s father (Vlad II) was admitted to the Order around 1431 because of his bravery in fighting the Turks. From 1431 onward Vlad II wore the emblem of the order and later, as ruler of Wallachia, his coinage bore the dragon symbol.


    Order of the Dragon Emblem - The word for dragon in Romanian is "drac" and "ul" is the definitive article. Vlad III’s father thus came to be known as "Vlad Dracul," or "Vlad the dragon." In Romanian the ending "ulea" means "the son of". Under this interpretation, Vlad III thus became Vlad Dracula, or "the son of the dragon." (The word "drac" also means "devil" in Romanian. The sobriquet thus took on a double meaning for enemies of Vlad Tepes and his father.)


    Historical Background - To appreciate the story of Vlad III it is essential to understand the social and political forces of the region during the 15th century. In broad terms this is a story of the struggle to obtain control of Wallachia, a region of the Balkans (in present-day southern Romania) which lay directly between the two powerful forces of Hungary and the Ottoman Empire.

    For nearly one thousand years Constantinople had stood as the protecting outpost of the Byzantine or East Roman Empire, and blocked Islam’s access to Europe. The Ottomans nonetheless succeeded in penetrating deep into the Balkans during this time. With the fall of Constantinople in 1453 under Sultan Mohammed the Conqueror, all of Christendom was suddenly threatened by the armed might of the Ottoman Turks. The Hungarian Kingdom to the north and west of Wallachia, which reached its zenith during this same time, assumed the ancient mantle as defender of Christendom.

    The rulers of Wallachia were thus forced to appease these two empires to maintain their survival, often forging alliances with one or the other, depending upon what served their self-interest at the time. Vlad III is best known by the Romanian people for his success in standing up to the encroaching Ottoman Turks and establishing relative independence and sovereignty (albeit for a relatively brief time).

    Another factor influencing political life was the means of succession to the Wallachian throne. The throne was hereditary, but not by the law of primogeniture. The boyars (wealthy land-owning nobles) had the right to elect the voivode (prince) from among various eligible members of the royal family. This allowed for succession to the throne through violent means. Assassinations and other violent overthrows of reigning parties were thus rampant. In fact, both Vlad III and his father assassinated competitors to attain the throne of Wallachia.


    History of Wallachia Prior to Vlad III - Wallachia was founded in 1290 by Radu Negru (Rudolph the Black). It was dominated by Hungary until 1330, when it became independent. The first ruler of the new country was Prince Basarab the Great, an ancestor of Dracula. Dracula’s grandfather, Prince Mircea the Old, reigned from 1386 to 1418. Eventually, the House of Basarab was split into two factions—Mircea’s descendant’s, and the descendants of another prince named Dan (called the Danesti). Much of the struggles to assume the throne during Dracula’s time were between these two competing factions.

    In 1431 King Sigismund made Vlad Dracul the military governor of Transylvania, a region directly northwest of Wallachia. (Vlad III was born during this time, in the latter part of 1431.) Vlad was not content to serve as mere governor, and so gathered supporters for his plan to seize Wallachia from its current occupant, Alexandru I, a Danesti prince. In 1436 he succeeded in his plan, killing Alexandru and becoming Vlad II. (Presumably there was an earlier prince also named Vlad.)

    For six years Vlad Dracul attempted to follow a middle ground between his two powerful neighbors. The prince of Wallachia was officially a vassal of the King of Hungary and Vlad was still a member of the Order of the Dragon and sworn to fight the infidel. At the same time the power of the Ottomans seemed unstoppable. Vlad was forced to pay tribute to the Sultan, just as his father, Mircea the Old, had been forced to do.

    In 1442 Vlad attempted to remain neutral when the Turks invaded Transylvania. The Turks were defeated, and the vengeful Hungarians under John Hunyadi—the White Knight of Hungary--forced Vlad Dracul and his family to flee Wallachia. In 1443 Vlad regained the Wallachian throne with Turkish support, but on the condition that Vlad send a yearly contingent of Wallachian boys to join the Sultan’s Janissaries. In 1444, to further assure to the Sultan his good faith, Vlad sent his two younger sons--Vlad III and Radu the Handsome--to Adrianople as hostages. Vlad III remained a hostage in Adrianople until 1448.

    In 1444 Hungary broke the peace and launched the Varna Campaign, led by John Hunyadi, in an effort to drive the Turks out of Europe. Hunyadi demanded that Vlad Dracul fulfill his oath as a member of the Order of the Dragon and a vassal of Hungary and join the crusade against the Turks, yet the wily politician still attempted to steer a middle course. Rather than join the Christian forces himself, he sent his oldest son, Mircea. Perhaps he hoped the Sultan would spare his younger sons if he himself did not join the crusade.

    The results of the Varna Crusade are well known. The Christian army was utterly destroyed in the Battle of Varna. John Hunyadi managed to escape the battle under inglorious conditions. From this moment forth John Hunyadi was bitterly hostile toward Vlad Dracul and his eldest son. In 1447 Vlad Dracul was assassinated along with his son Mircea. Mircea was apparently buried alive by the boyars and merchants of Tirgoviste. (Vlad III later exacted revenge upon these boyars and merchants.) Hunyadi placed his own candidate, a member of the Danesti clan, on the throne of Wallachia.

    On receiving news of Vlad Dracul’s death the Turks released Vlad III and supported him as their own candidate for the Wallachian throne. In 1448, at the age of seventeen, Vlad III managed to briefly seize the Wallachian throne. Yet within two months Hunyadi forced him to surrender the throne and flee to his cousin, the Prince of Moldavia. Vlad III’s successor to the throne, however—Vladislov II—unexpectedly instituted a pro-Turkish policy, which Hunyadi found to be unacceptable.

    He then turned to Vlad III, the son of his old enemy, as a more reliable candidate for the throne, and forged an allegiance with him to retake the throne by force. Vlad III received the Transylvanian duchies formerly governed by his father and remained there, under the protection of Hunyadi, waitng for an opportunity to retake Wallachia from his rival.

    In 1453, however, the Christian world was shocked by the final fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans. Hunyadi thus broadened the scope of his campaign against the insurgent Turks. In 1456 Hunyadi invaded Turkish Serbia while Vlad III simultaneously invaded Wallachia. In the Battle of Belgrade Hunyadi was killed and his army defeated. Meanwhile, Vlad III succeeded in killing Vladislav II and taking the Wallachian throne.

    Vlad III then began his main reign of Wallachia, which stretched from 1456-1462. It was during this period that he instituted his strict policies, stood up against the Turks and began his reign of terror by impalement.


    The Life of Vlad III (1431-1476) - Vlad III was born in November or December of 1431 in the Transylvanian city of Sighisoara. At the time his father, Vlad II (Vlad Dracul), was living in exile in Transylvania. The house where he was born is still standing. It was located in a prosperous neighborhood surrounded by the homes of Saxon and Magyar merchants and the townhouses of the nobility.

    Little is known about the early years of Vlad III’s life. He had an older brother, Mircea, and a younger brother, Radu the Handsome. His early education was left in the hands of his mother, a Transylvanian noblewoman, and her family. His real education began in 1436 after his father succeeded in claiming the Wallachian throne by killing his Danesti rival. His training was typical to that of the sons of nobility throughout Europe. His first tutor in his apprenticeship to knighthood was an elderly boyar who had fought against the Turks at the battle of Nicolopolis. Vlad learned all the skills of war and peace that were deemed necessary for a Christian knight.

    In 1444, at the age of thirteen, young Vlad and his brother Radu were sent to Adrianople as hostages, to appease the Sultan. He remained there until 1448, at which time he was released by the Turks, who supported him as their candidate for the Wallachian throne. Vlad’s younger brother apparently chose to remain in Turkey, where he had grown up. (Radu is later supported by the Turks as a candidate for the Wallachian throne, in opposition to his own brother, Vlad.)

    As previously noted, Vlad III’s initial reign was quite short (two months), and it was not until 1456, under the support of Hunyadi and the Kingdom of Hungary that he returned to the throne. He established Tirgoviste as his capitol city, and began to build his castle some distance away in the mountains near the Arges River. Most of the atrocities associated with Vlad III took place during this time.


    The Atrocities of Vlad Tepes - More than anything else the historical Dracula is known for his inhuman cruelty. Impalement was Vlad III’s preferred method of torture and execution. Impalement was and is one of the most gruesome ways of dying imaginable, as it was typically slow and painful.

    Vlad usually had a horse attached to each of the victim’s legs and a sharpened stake was gradually forced into the body. The end of the stake was usually oiled and care was taken that the stake not be too sharp, else the victim might die too rapidly from shock. Normally the stake was inserted into the body through the buttocks and was often forced through the body until it emerged from the mouth. However, there were many instances where victims were impaled through other body orifices or through the abdomen or chest. Infants were sometimes impaled on the stake forced through their mother’s chests. The records indicate that victims were sometimes impaled so that they hung upside down on the stake.

    Vlad Tepes often had the stakes arranged in various geometric patterns. The most common pattern was a ring of concentric circles in the outskirts of a city that was his target. The height of the spear indicated the rank of the victim. The decaying corpses were often left up for months. It was once reported that an invading Turkish army turned back in fright when it encountered thousands of rotting corpses impaled on the banks of the Danube. In 1461 Mohammed II, the conqueror of Constantinople, a man not noted for his squeamishness, returned to Constantinople after being sickened by the sight of twenty thousand impaled Turkish prisoners outside of the city of Tirgoviste. This gruesome sight is remembered in history as "the Forest of the Impaled."

    Thousands were often impaled at a single time. Ten thousand were impaled in the Transylvanian city of Sibiu in 1460. In 1459, on St. Bartholomew’s Day, Vlad III had thirty thousand of the merchants and boyars of the Transylvanian city of Brasov impaled. One of the most famous woodcuts of the period shows Vlad Dracula feasting amongst a forest of stakes and their grisly burdens outside Brasov while a nearby executioner cuts apart other victims.

    Although impalement was Vlad Dracula’s favorite method of torture, it was by no means his only method. The list of tortures employed by this cruel prince reads like an inventory of hell’s tools: nails in heads, cutting off of limbs, blinding, strangulation, burning, cutting off of noses and ears, mutilation of sexual organs (especially in the case of women), scalping, skinning, exposure to the elements or to wild animals, and burning alive.

    No one was immune to Vlad’s attentions. His victims included women and children, peasants and great lords, ambassadors from foreign powers and merchants. However, the vast majority of his victims came from the merchants and boyars of Transylvania and his own Wallachia.

    Many have attempted to justify Vlad Dracula’s actions on the basis of nascent nationalism and political necessity. Many of the merchants in Transylvania and Wallachia were German Saxons who were seen as parasites, preying upon Romanian natives of Wallachia. The wealthy land owning boyars exerted their own often capricious and unfaithful influence over the reigning princes. Vlad’s own father and older brother were murdered by unfaithful boyars. However, many of Vlad Dracula’s victims were also Wallachians, and few deny that he derived a perverted pleasure from his actions.

    Vlad Dracula began his reign of terror almost as soon as he came to power. His first significant act of cruelty may have been motivated by a desire for revenge as well as a need to solidify his power. Early in his main reign he gave a feast for his boyars and their families to celebrate Easter. Vlad was well aware that many of these same nobles were part of the conspiracy that led to his father’s assassination and the burying alive of his elder brother, Mircea. Many had also played a role in the overthrow of numerous Wallachian princes.

    During the feast Vlad asked his noble guests how many princes had ruled during their lifetimes. All of the nobles present had outlived several princes. None had seen less then seven reigns. Vlad immediately had all the assembled nobles arrested. The older boyars and their families were impaled on the spot. The younger and healthier nobles and their families were marched north from Tirgoviste to the ruins of his castle in the mountains above the Arges River. The enslaved boyars and their families were forced to labor for months rebuilding the old castle with materials from a nearby ruin. According to the reports they labored until the clothes fell off their bodies and then were forced to continue working naked. Very few survived this ordeal.

    Throughout his reign Vlad continued to systematically eradicate the old boyar class of Wallachia. Apparently Vlad was determined that his own power be on a modern and thoroughly secure footing. In the place of the executed boyars Vlad promoted new men from among the free peasantry and middle class; men who would be loyal only to their prince.

    Vlad Tepes’ atrocities against the people of Wallachia were usually attempts to enforce his own moral code upon his country. He appears to have been particularly concerned with female chastity. Maidens who lost their virginity, adulterous wives and unchaste widows were all targets of Vlad’s cruelty. Such women often had their sexual organs cut out or their breasts cut off, and were often impaled through the vagina on red-hot stakes. One report tells of the execution of an unfaithful wife. Vlad had the woman’s breasts cut off, then she was skinned and impaled in a square in Tirgoviste with her skin lying on a nearby table. Vlad also insisted that his people be honest and hard working. Merchants who cheated their customers were likely to find themselves mounted on a stake beside common thieves.


    The End of Vlad III - Although Vlad III experienced some success in fending off the Turks, his accomplishments were relatively short-lived. He received little support from his titular overlord, Matthius Corvinus, King of Hungary (son of John Hunyadi) and Wallachian resources were too limited to achieve any lasting success against the powerful Turks.

    The Turks finally succeeded in forcing Vlad to flee to Transylvania in 1462. Reportedly, his first wife committed suicide by leaping from the towers of Vlad’s castle into the waters of the Arges River rather than surrender to the Turks. Vlad escaped through a secret passage and fled across the mountains into Transylvania and appealed to Matthias Corvinus for aid. The king immediately had Vlad arrested and imprisoned in a royal tower.

    There is some debate as to the exact length of Vlad’s confinement. The Russian pamphlets indicate that he was a prisoner from 1462 until 1474. However, during this period he was able to gradually win his way back into the graces of Matthias Corvinus and ultimately met and married a member of the royal family (possibly the sister of Corvinus) and fathered two sons. It is unlikely that a prisoner would be allowed to marry a member of the royal family. As the eldest son was about 10 years old at the point Vlad regained the Wallachian throne in 1476, his release probably occurred around 1466.

    Note: The Russian narrative, normally very favorable to Vlad, indicates that even in captivity he could not give up his favorite past-time; he often captured birds and mice and proceeded to torture and mutilate them. Some were beheaded or tarred-and-feathered and released. Most were impaled on tiny spears.

    Another possible reason for Vlad’s rehabilitation was that the new successor to the Wallachian throne, Vlad’s own brother, Radu the Handsome, had instituted a very pro-Turkish policy. The Hungarian king may have viewed Dracula as a possible candidate to retake the throne. The fact that Vlad renounced the Orthodox faith and adopted Catholicism was also surely meant to appease his Hungarian captor.

    In 1476 Vlad was again ready to make a bid for power. Vlad Dracula and Prince Stephen Bathory of Transylvania invaded Wallachia with a mixed contingent of forces. Vlad’s brother, Radu, had by then already died and was replaced by Basarab the Old, a member of the Danesti clan. At the approach of Vlad’s army Basarab and his cohorts fled. However, shortly after retaking the throne, Prince Bathory and most of Vlad’s forces returned to Transylvania, leaving Vlad in a vulnerable position. Before he was able to gather support, a large Turkish army entered Wallachia. Vlad was forced to march and meet the Turks with less than four thousand men.

    Purported tomb of Vlad III - Vlad Dracula was killed in battle against the Turks near the town of Bucharest in December of 1476. Some reports indicate that he was assassinated by disloyal Wallachian boyars just as he was about to sweep the Turks from the field. Other accounts have him falling in defeat, surrounded by the ranks of his loyal Moldavian bodyguard. Still other reports claim that Vlad, at the moment of victory, was accidentally struck down by one of his own men. The one undisputed fact is that ultimately his body was decapitated by the Turks and his head sent to Constantinople where the sultan had it displayed on a stake as proof that the horrible Impaler was finally dead. He was reportedly buried at Snagov, an island monastery located near Bucharest.


    Historical Evidence - In evaluating the accounts of Vlad Dracula it is important to realize that much of the information comes from sources that may not be entirely accurate. With each of the three main sources there is reason to believe that the information provided may be influenced by local, mainly political, prejudices. The three main sources are as follows: (1) Pamphlets published in Germany shortly after Vlad’s death, (2) pamphlets published in Russia shortly after the German pamphlets, and (3) Romanian oral tradition.


    1. German Pamphlets -
    At the time of Vlad Dracula’s death Matthias Corvinus of Hungary was seeking to bolster his own reputation in the Holy Roman Empire and may have intended the early pamphlets as justification of his less than vigorous support of his vassal. It must also be remembered that German merchants were often the victims of Vlad Dracula’s cruelty. The pamphlets thus painted Vlad Dracula as an inhuman monster who terrorized the land and butchered innocents with sadistic glee.

    The pamphlets were also a form of mass entertainment in a society where the printing press was just coming into widespread use. The pamphlets were reprinted numerous times over the thirty or so years following Vlad’s death—strong proof of their popularity.


    2. Russian Pamphlets -
    At the time of Vlad III the princes of Moscow were just beginning to build the basis of what would become the autocracy of the czars. Just like Vlad III, they were having considerable problems with the disloyal, often troublesome boyars. In Russia, Vlad Dracula was thus presented as a cruel but just prince whose actions were intended to benefit the greater good of his people.


    3. Romanian Oral Tradition -
    Legends and tales concerning Vlad the Impaler have remained a part of folklore among the Romanian peasantry. These tales have been passed down from generation to generation for five hundred years. As one might imagine, through constant retelling they have become somewhat garbled and confused and are gradually being forgotten by the younger generations. However, they still provide valuable information about Vlad Dracula and his relationship with his people.

    Vlad Dracula is remembered as a just prince who defended his people from foreigners, whether those foreigners were Turkish invaders or German merchants. He is also remembered as a champion of the common man against the oppression of the boyars. A central part of the verbal tradition is Vlad’s insistence on honesty in his effort to eliminate crime and immoral behavior from the region. However, despite the more positive interpretation of his life, Vlad Dracula is still remembered as an exceptionally cruel and often capricious ruler.

    Despite the differences between these various sources, there are common strains that run among them. The German and Russian pamphlets, in particular, agree remarkably as to many specifics of Vlad Dracula’s deeds. This level of agreement has led many historians to conclude that much of the information must at least to some extent be true.


    Anecdotes - There are about nine anecdotes that are almost universal in the Vlad Dracula literature. They include the following:

    1. The Golden Cup - Vlad Dracula was known throughout his land for his fierce insistence on honesty and order. Thieves seldom dared practice their trade within his domain, for they knew that the stake awaited any who were caught. Vlad was so confident in the effectiveness of his law that he laced a golden cup on display in the central square of Tirgoviste. The cup was never stolen and remained entirely unmolested throughout Vlad Dracula’s reign.

    2. The Burning of the Sick and Poor - Vlad Dracula was very concerned that all his subjects work and contribute to the common welfare. He once notice that the poor, vagrants, beggars and cripples had become very numerous in his land. Consequently, he issued an invitation to all the poor and sick in Wallachia to come to Tirgoviste for a great feast, claiming that no one should go hungry in his land. As the poor and crippled arrived in the city they were ushered into a great hall where a fabulous feast was prepared for them. The guests ate and drank late into the night. Vlad himself then made an appearance and asked them, "What else do you desire? Do you want to be without cares, lacking nothing in this world?" When they responded positively Vlad ordered the hall boarded up and set on fire. None escaped the flames. Vlad explained his action to the boyars by claiming that he did this "in order that they represent no further burden to other men, and that no one will be poor in my realm."

    3. The Foreign Ambassadors - Although there are some discrepancies between the German and Russian pamphlets in the interpretation of this story, they agree to the following: Two ambassadors of a foreign power visited Vlad’s court at Tirgoviste. When in the presence of the prince, they refused to remove their hats. Vlad ordered that the hats be nailed to their heads, such that they should never have to remove them again.

    Note: The nailing of hats to the heads of those who displeased a monarch was not an unknown act in eastern Europe and by the princes of Moscow.

    4. The Foreign Merchant - A merchant from a foreign land visited Tirgoviste. Aware of the reputation of Vlad Dracula’s land for honesty, he left a treasure-laden cart unguarded in the street over night. Upon returning to his wagon in the morning, the merchant was shocked to find 160 golden ducats missing. Then the merchant complained of his loss to the prince, Vlad assured him that his money would be returned. Vlad Dracula then issued a proclamation to the city—find the thief and return the money or the city will be destroyed. During the night he ordered that 160 ducats plus one extra be taken from his own treasury and placed in the merchant’s cart. On returning to his cart the next morning and counting his money the merchant discovered the extra ducat. The merchant returned to Vlad and reported that his money had indeed been returned plus an extra ducat. Meanwhile the thief had been captured and turned over to the prince’s guards along with the stolen money. Vlad ordered the thief impaled and informed the merchant that if he had not reported the extra ducat he would have been impaled alongside the thief.

    5. The Lazy Woman - Vlad once noticed a man working in the fields while wearing a caftan (shirt) that he adjudged to be too short in length. The prince stopped and asked to see the man’s wife. When the woman was brought before him he asked her how she spent her days. The poor, frightened woman stated that she spent her days washing, baking and sewing. The prince pointed out her husband’s short caftan as evidence of her laziness and dishonesty and ordered her impaled, despite her husband’s protestations that he was well satisfied with his wife. Vlad then ordered another woman to marry the peasant but admonished her to work hard or she would suffer the same fate.

    6. The Nobleman with the Keen Sense of Smell - On St. Bartholomew’s Day in 1459 Vlad Dracula caused thirty thousand of the merchants and nobles of the Transylvanian city of Brasov to be impaled. In order that he might better enjoy the results of his orders, the prince commanded that his table be set up and that his boyars join him for a feast amongst the forest of impaled corpses. While dining, Vlad noticed that one of his boyars was holding his nose in an effort to alleviate the terrible smell of clotting blood and emptied bowels. Vlad then ordered the sensitive nobleman impaled on a stake higher than all the rest so that he might be above the stench.

    7. Vlad Dracula’s Mistress - Vlad Dracula once had a mistress that lived in a house in the back streets of Tirgoviste. This woman apparently loved the prince to distraction and was always anxious to please him. Vlad was often moody and depressed and the woman made every effort to lighten her lover’s burdens. Once, when he was particularly depressed, the woman dared tell him the lie that she was with child. Vlad had the woman examined by the bath matrons. When informed that the woman was lying, Vlad drew his knife and cut her open from the groin to her breast, leaving her to die in agony.

    8. The Polish Nobleman - Benedict de Boithor, a Polish nobleman in the service of the King of Hungary, visited Vlad Dracula at Tirgoviste in September of 1458. At dinner one evening Vlad ordered a golden spear brought and set up directly in front of the royal envoy. Vlad then asked the envoy if he knew why this spear had been set up. Benedict replied that he imagined some boyar had offended the prince and that Vlad intended to honor him. Vlad responded that the spear had, in fact, been set up in honor of his noble, Polish guest. The Pole then responded that if he had done anything to deserve death that Vlad should do as he thought best. Vlad Dracula was greatly pleased by this answer, showered him with gifts, and declared that had he answered in any other manner he would have been immediately impaled.

    9. The Two Monks - There is some discrepancy in the telling of this anecdote. The various sources agree, however, as to the basic story. Two monks from a foreign land came to visit Vlad Dracula in his palace at Tirgoviste. Curious to see the reaction of the churchmen, Vlad showed them rows of impaled corpses in the courtyard. When asked their opinions, the first monk responded, "You are appointed by God to punish evil-doers." The other monk had the moral courage to condemn the cruel prince. In the version of the story most common in the German pamphlets, Vlad rewarded the sycophantic monk and impaled the honest one. In the version found in Russian pamphlets and in Romanian verbal tradition Vlad rewarded the honest monk for his integrity and courage and impaled the sycophant for his dishonesty.


    The Origins of the Vampire Myth

    It is certainly no coincidence that Bram Stoker chose the Balkans as the home of his famous vampire. The Balkans were still basically medieval even in Stoker’s time. They had only recently shaken off the Turkish yoke when Stoker started working on his novel and the superstitions of the Dark Ages were still prevalent.

    The legend of the vampire was and still is deeply rooted in the Balkan region. There have always been vampire-like creatures in the mythologies of many cultures. However, the vampire, as he became known in Europe and hence America, largely originated in the Slavic and Greek lands of Eastern Europe.

    A veritable epidemic of vampirism swept through Eastern Europe beginning in the late seventeenth century and continuing through the eighteenth century. The number of reported cases rose dramatically in Hungary and the Balkans. From the Balkans the plague spread westward into Germany, Italy, France, England and Spain. Travelers returning from the Balkans brought with them tales of the undead, igniting an interest in the vampire that has continued to this day.

    Philosophers in the West began to study the phenomenon. It was during this period that Dom Augustin Calmet wrote his famous treatise on vampirism in Hungary. It was also during this period that authors and playwrights first began to explore the vampire myth. Stoker’s novel was merely the culminating work of a long series of works that were inspired by the reports coming from the region.


    Did Bram Stoker base his Dracula upon the historical Dracula?

    First Edition of DRACULA (Constable, 1897)

    Although it is widely assumed, even among scholars, that Bram Stoker based his novel upon the historical figure of Vlad Tepes, there is at least one prominent scholar who challenges this assumption. Her name is Elizabeth Miller, a professor with the Department of English at Memorial University of Newfoundland. (http://www.ucs.mun.ca/~emiller/owner.htm) Her primary argument is that Bram Stoker kept meticulous notes of his references in creating Dracula, and none of the references contain specific information about the life and/or atrocities of Vlad Tepes.

    There is fairly strong evidence the two Draculas are connected. Arguments in favor of this position include the following:

    * The fictional Dracula and the historical Dracula share the same name. There can be no doubt that Bram Stoker based his character upon some reference to Vlad Dracula.
    * Stoker researched various sources prior to writing the novel, including the Library at Whitby and literature from the British Museum. It is entirely possible that his readings on Balkan history would have included information about Vlad Tepes.
    * Stoker was the friend of a Hungarian professor from Budapest, named Arminius Vambery, who he met personally on several occasions and who may have given him information about the historical Dracula.
    * Some of the text of Stoker’s novel provides direct correlations between the fictional Dracula and Vlad Tepes (e.g., the fighting off of the Turks--also, the physical description of Dracula in the novel is very similar to the traditional image of Vlad Tepes.).
    * Other references in the novel may also be related to the historical Dracula. For example, the driving of a stake through the vampire’s heart may be related to Vlad’s use of impalement; Renfield’s fixation with insects and small animals may have found inspiration in Vlad’s penchant for torturing small animals during his period of imprisonment; and Dracula’s loathing of holy objects may relate to Vlad’s renunciation of the Orthodox Church.

    Professor Miller counters each of these arguments. In particular she notes the only reference provided by Stoker in his notes that contains any information about Vlad Tepes is a book by William Wilkinson entitled An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia (1820), which Stoker borrowed from the Whitby Public Library in 1890 while there on vacation. The book contains a few brief references to a "Voivode Dracula" (never referred to as Vlad) who crossed the Danube and attacked Turkish troops. Also, what seems to have attracted Stoker was a footnote in which Wilkinson states "Dracula in Wallachian language means Devil." Stoker apparently supplemented this with scraps of Romanian history from other sources. Professor Miller argues that The Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia is the only known source for Stoker’s information on the historical Dracula, and that everything else is mere speculation.

    As far as Stoker’s acquaintance with the Hungarian professor Vambrey, Miller notes that the record only documents two meetings between the two individuals, and there is no evidence that Vambrey ever spoke of Vlad Tepes, vampires or Transylvania during their visits.

    As far as any likeness between the historical Vlad Dracula and descriptions provided in the novel, professor Miller notes that it is most likely Stoker drew his description of Count Dracula from earlier villains in Gothic literature, or even from his own employer, Henry Irving.

    In conclusion, Miller makes an assumption of her own: In the novel Stoker provides thorough historical detail obtained from his various references. Had he known about the atrocities of Vald Tepes, Miller argues, surely he would have included such information in his novel.

    For a more detailed argument by professor Miller, see http://www.ucs.mun.ca/~emiller/kalo.htm.


    Source: Most of the information provided on this site was obtained from a
    document entitled "The Historical Dracula," by Ray Porter. See http://www.eskimo.com/~mwirkk/vladhist.html for more information.
    Last edited by Marius; Monday, November 8th, 2004 at 04:12 PM.

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    Post Vlad Dracula

    while research one of my favorite famous figures in eastern european history

    I came across a false assumption that Vlad was somehow a communist...indeed the writings of Karl Marx didn't even exist in his day the Soviet Union when taking over Romania needed some propoganda and simply took the most valued war hero and tried to make him out as a hero of communism...but this is certainly not true of Vlad Dracula

    let me get to the real point of this thread
    Vlad Dracula the impaler not only was a great warlord,and exalt the virtues of radical traditionalism

    he was a geniune nationalist and even a Corporatist
    what I'm taking about is when Vlad Dracula invited 500 boyars to his castle to ask them how many princes reigned in their lifetimes
    when they answered many princes he blamed it on their trechery and had them executed and impaled on the spot
    and had them replaced with loyal subjects
    before he did that how the kingdom was run and who ruled was under the control of the boyar majority
    these economic agents=nobles/boyars ran the country until Vlad reversed things and merged trade/economy and state and removed this extra power the boyars had...sound fimiliar? this is actually a great example of Corporatism before was said to exist

    hence Vlad Dracula was the first Fascist Corporatist dictator

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    Post Re: AW: Vlad Dracula

    Quote Originally Posted by Hedwig
    Surely there are things to admire about Vlad, but I highly doubt the fact that he was a "genuine nationalist", first of all, because the feeling of pretainance to the same nation was not even developped in Valachia at the time. There was also no national state. Secondly, during his first years of reign, a lot of his actions were carried out due to a feeling of vengeance, as his father had been assasinated by a competitor for the throne.

    It is also said that he hated the sick, the poor, the beggars and the homeless. Once he invited the crowds to his residence where he treated them with a meal. Afterwards, he asked them if they wanted their poorness to come to an end. Of course their answer was affirmative, so he demanded that the hall be sealed and they were set on fire.

    Dictator? Well, one could say he was an authoritary figure. The notorious impaling was actually a Turkish habbit - it makes sense that he picked it up, having in matter the fact that he had spent a lot of time among the Turks.

    P.S: Romania was not part of the Soviet Union.
    I said he was a nationalist because he fought foreign influence in his country(Turks and Hungarians)

    that story about the poor men and beggars was just his answer to welfare

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    Academics find Dracula was partly inspired by Sligo


    It is one of the most famous novels of all time, one which has scared readers and viewers of the many screen and stage interpretations since it was penned in 1897.
    What’s not widely known, however, is that Dracula, the story of a Transylvanian vampire who travels to England in search of new blood, was actually partly inspired by the town of Sligo.


    Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, was born in Dublin on 8 November, 1847, but his mother, Charlotte Stoker, née Thornley, grew up in Sligo, and stories she told him as a child echo through Stoker’s most famous novel.




    Today, to mark Bram Stoker’s birthday, academics and fans of the gothic novel have gathered in Sligo to discuss just 'How Sligo shaped Dracula' at a conference organised by the local Bram Stoker Society.
    Historian Dr Marion McGarry has been researching the connections between Dracula and Sligo, and points to a devastating cholera epidemic in the town in 1832, when in just six weeks, an estimated 1,500 townspeople died from the disease.


    While Charlotte’s family escaped, Dr McGarry says she was forever haunted by what she witnessed, and in later years wrote a first-hand account of what she witnessed in ‘Experiences of the Cholera in Ireland’. Charlotte told the young Bram stories of the cholera epidemic, but it seems he later consulted other accounts of the epidemic in Sligo written by local historians William G Wood-Martin and Terence O’Rorke. According to Dr McGarry, by analysing these sources and cross-referencing the text of Dracula, it is apparent that Count Dracula can be partly read as the personification of Sligo’s cholera epidemic.





    The first victim of the cholera epidemic in Sligo died on 11 August. Wood-Martin wrote that this event was preceded by an unusual storm, with ‘thunder and lightning, accompanied by a close, hot atmosphere’.
    Dr McGarry says this is mirrored in Dracula, whose arrival from the east is preceded by a great and sudden storm, and he claims his first victim on English soil on 11 August.


    Dr McGarry’s research highlights other connections between Dracula and what happened in Sligo in 1832, including real stories of people being buried before they were dead - while in Dracula, there is the concept of the undead, vampires who are living while dead.


    It was believed in Sligo during the epidemic that the Catholic clergy were miraculously immune to cholera, and in Dracula, symbols like holy water and the crucifix are used to fight vampirism.

    RTE Aertel 10 Nov 2018.



    A Homeopathic History of Cholera | Sue Young Histories


    sueyounghistories.comarchives/2009/11/09/a…of…



    1832 – Bram Stoker 1847 – 1912, writer, Homeopathic advocate, the Stoker family moved to Sligo and returned to Ballyshannon in 1832 to escape from the cholera plague, which killed five eighths of the population of Sligo.




    I have heard this story locally in Sligo before. A plague that killed 62.5% of the population of the town was remarkable and significant..


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    The real world medical disorder known as the vampire syndrome:

    https://medical-dictionary.thefreedi...mpire+Syndrome
    Aside from an ever increasing number of mortals who have willfully chosen to worship Satan and his minions, our battle has always been against the powers and principalities operating surreptitiously throughout this twisted world.

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    There's been a sequel to Dracula: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dracula_the_Un-dead

    "Dracula the Un-dead is a sequel to Bram Stoker's classic novel Dracula. The book was written by Bram Stoker's great grand-nephew Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt. Previously, Holt had been a direct-to-DVD horror screenwriter, and Stoker a track and field coach."

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    Vlad


    Vlad the Impaler of 20,000 Turks


    was a hostage of the Ottoman Turkish Sultan as a teenager, and learned Turkish during this time. Later, while fighting the Ottomans, Vlad would disguise himself as a Turk, infiltrate and destory a series of fortresses. The Night Attack of Târgovişte was a skirmish fought between forces of Vlad III the Impaler of Wallachia and Mehmed II of the OttomanEmpire on Thursday, June 17, 1462. The conflict initially started with Vlad’s refusal to pay the jizya (tax on non-Muslims) to the Sultan and intensified when Vlad Ţepeş invaded Bulgaria and impaled over 23,000 Turks and Bulgarians. Mehmed then raised a great army with the objective to conquer Wallachia and annex it to his empire. The two leaders fought a series of skirmishes, the most notable one being the Night Attack where Vlad Ţepeş attacked the Turkish camp in the night in an attempt to kill Mehmed. The assassination attempt failed and Mehmed marched to the Wallachian capital of Târgovişte, where he discovered another 20,000 impaled Turks and Bulgarians. Horrified, the Sultan and his troops retreated.


    Background

    After the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453, Mehmed set his target on other campaigns. In Anatolia, the Greek Trebizond was still resisting the Ottomans, and to the East the White Sheep Turkomans of Uzun Hasan, together with other smaller states, threatened the Ottomans. In the West, Skanderbeg in Albania continued to trouble the Sultan, while Bosnia was sometimes reluctant in paying the Jizya (tax on non-Muslims). Wallachia controlled her side of the Danube and Mehmed wanted to have control over the river, as naval attacks could be launched against his empire all the way from the Holy Roman Empire. On September 26, 1459, Pope Pius II called for a new crusade against the Ottomans and on January 14, 1460, at the Congress of Mantua, the Pope proclaimed the official crusade that was to last for three years. His plan, however, failed and the only European leader that showed enthusiasm for the crusade was Vlad Ţepeş, whom the Pope held in high regard. Because of a lack of enthusiasm shown by Europeans for the crusade, Mehmed took the opportunity to take an offensive stand. Later that same year (1460), he captured the last independent Serbian city, Smederevo, and in 1461, he convinced the Greek despot of Morea to give up his stronghold; soon thereafter, its capital, Mistra, and Corinth followed suit and surrendered themselves without struggle.



    Vlad Ţepeş’s only ally, Mihály Szilágyi, was captured in 1460 by the Turks while traversing in Bulgaria. Szilágyi’s men were tortured to death, while Szilágyi was killed by being sawn in half. Later that year, Mehmed sent envoys to Vlad to urge him to pay the delayed Jizya (tax on non-Muslims). Vlad Ţepeş provoked Mehmed by having the envoys killed and in a letter dated September 10, 1460, addressed to the Transylvanian Saxons of Kronstadt (today: Braşov), he warned them of Mehmed’s invasion plans and asked for their support. Vlad Ţepeş had not paid the annual Jizya (tax on non-Muslims) of 10,000 ducats since 1459. In addition to this, Mehmed asked him for 500 boys that were to be trained as janissaries. Vlad Ţepeş refused the demand, and the Turks crossed the Danube and started to do their own recruiting, to which Vlad reacted by capturing the Turks and impaling them. The conflict continued until 1461, when Mehmed asked the Prince to come to Constantinople and negotiate with him.



    At the end of November 1461, Vlad Ţepeş wrote to Mehmed that he could not afford to pay the Jizya (tax on non-Muslims), as his war against the Saxons of Transylvania had emptied his resources, and that he could not leave Wallachia and risk having the Hungarian king take over his domains. He further promised to send the Sultan plenty of gold when he could afford to and that he would go to Constantinople if the Sultan would send him a pasha to rule over Wallachia in his absence. Meanwhile, the Sultan received intelligence reports that revealed Vlad’s alliance with Hungarian king, Matthias Corvinus. He sent the bey of Nicopolis, Hamza Pasha, to stage a diplomatic meeting with Vlad at Giurgiu, but with orders to ambush him there; and thereafter, take him to Constantinople.[8] Vlad was forewarned about the ambush and planned to set an ambush of his own. Hamza brought with him 1,000 cavalry and when passing through a narrow pass north of Giurgiu, Vlad launched a surprise-attack. The Wallachians had the Turks surrounded and fired with their handgunners until the entire expedition-force was killed. Historians credit Vlad Ţepeş as one of the first European crusaders to use gunpowder in a “deadly artistic way.” In a letter to Corvinus, dated February 2, 1462, he wrote that Hamza Pasha was captured close to the former Wallachian fortress of Giurgiu. He then disguised himself as a Turk and advanced with his cavalry towards the fortress where he ordered the guards in Turkish to have the gates open. This they did and Vlad Ţepeş attacked and destroyed the fortress. In his next move, he went on a campaign and slaughtered enemy soldiers and population that might have sympathized with the Turks; first in southern Wallachia, then, in Bulgaria by crossing the frozen Danube. While in Bulgaria, he divided his army into several smaller groups and covered “some 800 kilometers in two weeks,” as they killed over 23,000 Turks and Muslim Bulgarians. In a letter to Corvinus, dated February 11, 1462, he stated:

    I have killed peasants men and women, old and young, who lived at Oblucitza and Novoselo, where the Danube flows into the sea, up to Rahova, which is located near Chilia, from the lower Danube up to such places as Samovit and Ghighen. We killed 23,884 Bulgars without counting those whom we burned in homes or the Turks whose heads were cut by our soldiers…Thus, your highness, you must know that I have broken the peace with him (Sultan Mehmet II).



    The Christian Bulgarians were, however, spared; and many of them were settled in Wallachia. His precise numbers were counted as such: At Giugiu there were 6,414 victims; at Eni Sala, 1,350; at Durostor 6,840; at Orsova, 343; at Hârsova, 840; at Marotin, 210; at Turtucaia, 630; at Turnu, Batin, and Novograd, 384; at Sistov, 410; at Nicopolis and Ghighen, 1,138; at Rahova, 1,460. When hearing about the devastation, Mehmed — who was busy besieging a fortress in Corinth — sent his grand vizier, Mahmud, with an army of 18,000 to destroy the Wallachian port of Brăila. Vlad Ţepeş turned back and defeated the army, and according to the Italian chronicle de Lezze, only 8,000 Turks survived. Vlad Ţepeş’s campaign was celebrated among the Saxon cities of Transylvania, the Italian states and the Pope. A Venetian envoy, upon hearing about the news at the court of Corvinus on March 4, expressed great joy and said that the whole of Christianity should celebrate Vlad Ţepeş’s successful campaign. An English pilgrim to the Holy Land, William of Wey, passing through the island of Rhodes while on his way home, wrote that “the military men of Rhodes, upon hearing of Vlad Ţepeş’s campaign, had Te Deum sung in praise and honour of God who had granted such victories….The lord mayor of Rhodes convened his brother soldiers and the whole citizenry feasted on fruit and wine.” The Genoese from Caffa thanked Vlad Ţepeş, for his campaign had saved them from an attack of some 300 ships that the sultan planned to send against them. Many Turks were now frightened of Vlad and left the European side of their empire and moved into Anatolia. Mehmed, when hearing about the events, abandoned his siege at Corinth and decided to go against Vlad Ţepeş himself.


    As a teenager Vlad the Impaler was a hostage of the Turkish...


    Vlad III, known as Vlad the Impaler, was voivode (or prince) of Wallachia three times between 1448 and his death. He was the second son of Vlad Dracul, who became the ruler of Wallachia in 1436. Vlad and his younger brother, Radu, were held as hostages in the Ottoman Empire from 1442 to secure their father's loyalty. Vlad's father and eldest brother, Mircea, were murdered after John Hunyadi, Regent-Governor of Hungary, invaded Wallachia in 1447. Hunyadi installed Vlad's second cousin, Vladislav II, as the new voivode. Hunyadi launched a military campaign against the Ottomans in the autumn of 1448, and Vladislav accompanied him. Vlad broke into Wallachia with Ottoman support in October, but Vladislav returned and Vlad sought refuge in the Ottoman Empire before the end of the year. Vlad went to Moldavia in 1449 or 1450, and later to Hungary. He invaded Wallachia with Hungarian support in 1456. Vladislav died fighting against him. Vlad began a purge among the Wallachian boyars to strengthen his position. He came into conflict with the Transylvanian Saxons, who supported his opponents, Dan and Basarab Laiotă (who were Vladislav's brothers), and Vlad's illegitimate half-brother, Vlad the Monk. Vlad plundered the Saxon villages, taking the captured people to Wallachia where he had them impaled (which gave rise to his cognomen). Peace was restored in 1460.


    NWO Documentary CHANNEL Published on Jul 1, 2017


    Vlad the Impaler the impalement of the 20,000 mostly Turkish prisoners outside the capital.






    Vlad The Impaler : The Real Dracula Full AMAZING Documentary
    42 min 12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gareth Lee Hunter View Post
    The real world medical disorder known as the vampire syndrome:

    https://medical-dictionary.thefreedi...mpire+Syndrome
    Interestingly I was diagnosed with Acute Intermittent Porphyria in 1990 by chemical analysis of faeces and urine. When they carried out genetic testing a few years ago they could not find the mutant gene for AIP. I revisited the chemical testing of my faeces earlier this year. They are still struggling to confirm the original diagnosis but they noted that my porphyrin count was 'slightly raised' which is still unusual so I have no idea if I have inherited Porphyria or not. AIP though does NOT affect the skin. However if the AIP diagnosis of my late half sister was incorrect then who knows I may have a different type of Porphyria. The reason why I mention this is because of the rarity of the Porphyrias.

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    'No doubt' about Sligo links to Dracula, says Stoker relative



    The great grand-nephew of Bram Stoker believes that there is no doubt that the author's writing was inspired by his mother Charlotte's stories from Sligo of the cholera epidemic of the 1830s.



    Dacre Stoker, now an author in his own right, visited Sligo last week for the first time to see his family's roots. Bram's mother, Charlotte Thornley, was a Sligo native. Dacre says it is almost certain that Charlotte's stories of premature burials, death, and illness inspired Bram's most famous novel 'Dracula'.


    He said: "When Bram was a young man and he was beginning his writing career, his mother and father and two sisters had moved continent. We have a record of Bram actually asking for that story to be typed up and mailed to him. He took that and used that in his book of short stories, 'Under the Sunset', horror stories for children. We know beyond reasonable doubt that that story had a major impact on Bram."


    He believes that Bram kept his mother's stories in the back of his mind, because he as a youngster suffered a lengthy period of illness, and perhaps feared that he too would be misdiagnosed and prematurely buried.


    Whitby Abbey in the UK is said to have also inspired Bram Stoker when he wrote 'Dracula'. Although unable to visit Sligo Abbey during his visit to Sligo, Dacre says that there are similarities between Sligo Abbey and Whitby. "Even when you read Dracula, Whitby Abbey is not really mentioned. It's an atmosphere that Bram took advantage of and placed that story in Whitby because of many things in Whitby's feel and vibe. What's stronger is the association to the story of Charlotte growing up here and the direct connection between her telling him the story of the 1832 cholera epidemic, him asking for it to be typed up and then sent back to him years later. "There's no question that had something to do with him thinking of undead bodies, misdiagnosis, premature burial, all ties in together," he told The Sligo Champion.


    Finally getting to visit Sligo, the home of his relatives, was a 'relief' he said. "I've come to Dublin, I've come to Killarney where the other part of my family is from. "Finally coming to Sligo is this relief that I can finally tick off the box, I wouldn't say I've finished the trail of Bram's mother and her family but I'm getting closer and this is an important step. I'm loving it and I'm so glad I finally made it."


    Dacre said he was aware of the huge work done by the Stoker Society Sligo, but was not fully aware of how much work they have done. During his visit, he met many members of the society and learned of the research carried out by Dr. Fiona Gallagher, and Dr. Marion McGarry. "I knew a little bit because of social media and I knew what Marion had done with the Stoker Sligo society. I didn't know much about Fiona's work but now I've met them all, there's great synergy of local interest and expertise that are bringing to the forefront. "Now that I see the County Council is behind these signs, and the church where the tomb is, it seems to be a group of people very interested in highlighting this. I had a little idea but not nearly as much as now that I'm finally here to see it. Nothing tells the story as much as being there and seeing it."
    Dacre unveiled a new storyboard at St. John's Cathedral, where members of Charlotte Thornley's family, including her mother, are buried. He also laid a wreath at the family tomb in what was an emotional experience for him. "There was a lot of people that showed up at St. John's Church, a lot of parishioners who came out of interest but there's a wonderful sign that I unveiled. That's important too. "Even though there may be talk of this in the town, there needs to be physical markers and to see the sign on the side of the building next to where they think Charlotte's family lived and to have these storyboards where people can go and take a picture. "It's important. The internet is wonderful but it's fleeting. Permanent markers are important.


    "When the nerves calm down and you're finally here, this is part of your family. When you sort of look at this and go 'if she (Charlotte's mother) wasn't here I wouldn't be here'. It is emotional. It's a wonderful thing and it's really nice that she's being well looked after and the grave is well maintained and other people care about it even though the family is long gone." Dacre feels that there is plenty that can be done with the Stoker connection to boost tourism in Sligo. "There's a number of things that come to mind. Dublin started a full on festival which stimulates other people to do art, music, short plays. I know somebody in Ballyshannon did a play that had to do with it. I know there's some interest. I know if there could be a festival, more of these signboards put up, if you build it they will come." "You need physical things. You need a tourist to look on the internet and say 'let's go to Sligo, let's take this tour and what else is here?'. "If you don't have a festival or something else organised then you can just read about it on the internet, you don't have to come." Storyboards have also been erected at Sligo Abbey, the library and more.


    Sligo Champion
    . 08 XI 2019.


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