December 30, 2008

Where Are They?

Not in Transylvania most certainly, if you happen to be Serbian, Saxon, Hungarian or anything but Romanian.

The past dies... but the past is forgotten by all of the future generations due to the lack of memory of the people whose responsibility it was to care for the telling of the past.

December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

As they say... Merry Christmas.

Hope like they did in Transylvania that you got wonderful gifts on the 24th.

They would also not eat turkey but ham.

Enjoy!

December 18, 2008

what do you think of him?



young or old?

Where is he from? why is he in the army? you tell me. and he is a Saxon from Transylvania.

December 16, 2008

A Walk In The Past

To walk in my ancestors shoes I need to work towards an understanding of the land.
Okay

Mountains and hills, rather rugged terrain, and the climate is not to extreme yet has some cold winters and hot summers.

Not like Canada...

December 15, 2008

My Story

I come form a family who came from Transylvania. That alone sets me apart from the crowd.

I also know more about the people the Saxons than most will.

But I still am searching for a meaning as to why such an area is forgotten by most, when it is only a foot note in history and yet has so much potential...

Roman ruins, medieval castles, reformation theologians, scientists and more.

Men who were born in Transylvania and left their mark in the military.

My life links back to them and yet since I do not speak the languages i am lost...

But i want and desire to change that.

December 12, 2008

What I Love

I always found a place of history i Transylvania.

Maybe because I love the classic history of the Romans or the 1800s but I still find that when I can find a place that holds my interest for more than those periods I take notice.

It is also interesting because in a sense I feel I might find my own life there. After all if one does not learn history does one not repeat it?

Try the Countess of Transylvania and Vlad Dracul...

The Austrians and Hungarians.

All are linked in many ways that link is Transylvania.

December 10, 2008

Whose?


Who would be your favorite person in Transylvania?
Next Blog I'll tell you mine!


December 9, 2008

Anything Else?

Here is something you'll love:

A principality and a province, yes two other type of government and territory Transylvania was and is.

Now, where and which countries?

Well, for a while just as Transylvania, then as a Hungarian principality and then under direct rule of Hungary and then Austria and then Hungary and then Romania.

Did you know Transylvania was divided at one point? Can you tell me when?

Anything Else?

December 5, 2008

Politics

What kind of Politics do you think Transylvania had in the past?

Democracy or Monarchy or Dictatorship or whatever?

All three and more.

December 4, 2008

So WHY?

I think that most people live in a why world.

why does this.. why does that.. why.. why.. why

here's my take on why

Why did the Romanian government view Vlad the Impaler as a hero?
Why did the diversity of Transylvania get destroyed?
Why don't people care about their past?
Why did the Culture die?
Why should I even care?

What are your why?

December 2, 2008

A Small Test

How many peoples populated Transylvania?

Romanian, Hungarian, Saxons, Roma, Serbs, Austrians,

Any more?

Yes or No?

I want to hear your voice, okay everyone?

November 30, 2008

You Say What You Think

Tell me what does Transylvania mean to you?

Does it hold a past you want to find more about?

What makes it so interesting?

What about the Pied Piper

You Tell me is this worth a book?

The flute of the Pied Piper still calls us to follow him to Transylvania. At least this is what some versions say. The Robert Browning poem, based on this story, ends with the verse that the children went to Transylvania from the German town of Hamelin. Even the folk storytellers the Brothers Grimm have their own version of what happened. As with Vlad the Impaler, this makes for a great story.
The village of Hamelin is where the story of the Pied Piper starts. From there, the pied piper was a person who took the children away from their parent. Because what happened to the children remains a mystery, many people have their own theories. According to some, the Pied Piper led the children out of the village into the hills to kill them. According to others, children left on a crusade. According to the last group, the children left their parents for Eastern Europe

November 28, 2008

How About This?

Comments please,

History begins when people begin to record it in some fashion. This is true with all cultures and in all times. The Siebenburgen Saxons story starts with an invitation. Geza II of Hungary needed people and issued an invitation to the German population to come and settle in his land. They did so over the next few centuries.

Geza had good reason to ask them to come. His land in the South was sparely populated and he needed more people to protect his borders. He came to the Hungarian throne as an eleven year old boy. His reputation as just king grew over the years. When he gave out the invitation, he was older and wiser and understood that the Tartars, Mongols, and Turks presented a threat to his country. He also needed money. Hoping to gain more taxes he invited people to populate the area “beyond the woods.”

November 26, 2008

What about Dracula?

Here's bit of fun for you.

Vlad even made a great story in death. Honey is a sweet food to eat, and a beautiful colour, except when somebody places a head inside a jar of honey. Some say that his boyars changed their loyalty and assassinated him. Still other reports say he died during a December battle with the Turks. All sources, say that the Turks decapitated him and sent the head back to the Sultan. This is where the honey jar comes into play. To preserve his head, the Turks placed his head in a jar full of honey.

I in fact did not know this until recently. But then I am still learning which is why I do this.

November 25, 2008

What Does This Mean To You?

Writing the hisotry of Transylvania is a challenge, but of course added to this fact that it is also a transfer of oral history to written hisotry this makes is all the harder.  Here are a few ideas for an intoroduction to my book:


The Second World War almost ended before it began for the Saxon men of Transylvania. The men worried for good reason at the start of the conflict between Germany and Poland, as farmers in an isolated land, they stood to lose more than their lives. Adolf Hitler, the leader in Nazi Germany, lusted for power and land for his vision of Germany.

In September of 1939, Hitler's army invaded Poland. He needed more manpower for his German army soon, as with this invasion, France and Britain declared war on Germany. The men of Transylvania knew Hitler needed bodies to fight with, and as Volksdeutsche, their loyalty to the German Reich was automatically assumed. These ethnic Germans or Volksdeutsche were not citizens of Germany, and often never lived in Germany. They were Germans who by their origin came from Germany, but lived in other countries. Although they were ethnic Germans, they did not have the same status in the army, or as citizens of Germany.

Does this make sense? is it fun? interesting?

Update:  nearly three years after this post this book is now out for people to read In Search of the Lost Ones on Amazon.com, amazon.ca and amazon.co.uk, and you can buy the English version on amazon.de

November 21, 2008

The Answer

Transylvania is found in Eastern Europe in the country of Romania.

It is not part of Africa.

It is not in Russia, and never had been.

It was part of Hungary and then The Austrian- Hungarian Empire, and now it is a part of Romania.

You can read about bits of it from the novel Dracula.

Can you find it on a map?

November 16, 2008

Some Changes In Views

What would have happened if during the Second World War, Romania had remained on the side of the Axis?

What would have happened had Hungary not lost Transylvania?

Would the same thing that happened during the 1960s and 1970s happen where all the people would be "encouraged" to move if they were not Romanians?

What about smaller groups from Transylvania would they remain in Transylvania creating a new dynamic to the area?

What of the myths and legends which people wonder about?

November 15, 2008

A History of Transylvania, Written By Saxons

You tell me:

The history of the Transylvanian Saxons started with an invitation. Not a simple invitation to come to Transylvania- the land beyond the forest-, but one from the Hungarian King to help defend populate and develop. To this end, some three hundred families took the call in the twelfth century and journeyed to Transylvania. From this came the city of Hermannstadt. More cities and villages followed. By an order from the King of Hungary, Geza II anyone who accepted this invitation kept the language, culture, and religion which they had come with to Transylvania.


November 14, 2008

A Caring People?

I doubt that anyone will argue with this statement:

Nobody really knows where Transylvania is.

This is very true since now that I interview so many people about their lives in the area, that I find myself explaining where this land is.

Yes, in Europe. In Romania.

I also find it hard to imagine how easily people forget that Europe changed a lot since many of the peoples of Transylvania left the are. For hundreds of years there were tiny little dukedoms and principalities and kingdoms and small sized Empires. In fact, not until 1871 was there a Germany.

In 1867, that is when the Austrian-Hungarian Dual Monarchy came into existence. Poland was not a country until 1919, and then not there from 1939 until 1946 when the winners of the Second World War, brought it back.

The only thing which I can say about Transylvania was that it was very lucky not to have a civil war, as many groups lived in the area.

Funny most people for all their "knowledge" do not understand why this place has such a significance. It is one of the few place in Europe where different groups of people lived in a small area without major warfare between them. A country or so over from Romania is a prime example. Yugoslavia.

November 12, 2008

And So

There is one person whom I have failed to mention for a long time. She was known as the Countess of Transylvania.

Truly a modern day Dracula. Some said she killed over 650 people-- more specifically young women and girls. To keep herself young.

She married but kept her own name, which was more "powerful" than that of her husband. She developed a taste for pain in others and when drawing blood, found that her hand looked better and more youthful.

Later she would torture girls and drain them of their blood. Her end only came when she started to kill aristocratic girls, which was of course, noticed by many.

As she was a noblewoman the judges did not try her, instead they walled her up in two rooms, with a space for food to come in. There she died.

Her name, Elizabeth Bothary, Countess of Transylvania

November 10, 2008

Favorite Transylvanian?

You tell me:

if you wrote about someone from Transylvania who would it be and why?

The Rules Of Pain

It is interesting to find that many people and cultures lived in the area of Transylvania and lived in relative harmony.

At the same time, people still felt that their culture was stronger or better or whatever.

So, for many years the Romanians of the area faced persecution. When they came to power after 1918, they took away land and power... only to have this happen to them in 1940.

This caused great pain for everyone. People fared worse and not better since by doing such things the people who farmed and did not have "power" now found more ways to feel pain.

Why is that?

Being human.

A matter of Pride.

A Question Of Matter

One question:

What made Transylvania great?

Was it Vlad? or Countess Elizabeth who soaked herself in blood to keep young? or the people?

The romance?


you tell me!

November 7, 2008

Differences Held

I understand so much more about Transylvania now than I did so many years ago. I also understand what minorities went through to get where they are in life.

The funny thing is that once you are a minority who stood as victims no matter how much power you get, the idea of being a victim remains as part of you.

Sad but true.

I wonder how many people would be aware of plights of the Hungarians in Transylvania during the inter war years or the Germans or the Roma, or Serbs or any other group who lived there during the time when Romanians once victims became more powerful.

Still, persecution of so many people tells more of the tale where people live in fear to tell history to the younger generation for fear they can be harmed. This is not right in any sense.

History should not be forgotten, but it is a three edged sword, your truth, their and the real truth.

Dracula lived as a man and is a great hero to Eastern cultures yet in the West is a feared person due to history being altered.

What will be left of this land once history is forgotten from it?

Don't Cry For Transylvania

The land beyond the forest is dying. From environmental pollution which effects the land and the people, to the number of people in the area.

I hear it is 58 people per square kilometer. That is a lot.

What do you think should be done?

November 4, 2008

How Many Different People

In Transylvania there was a high number of different groups.

Serbs, Gypsies (or Roma) Romanians, Germans, Hungarians, and more.

Now there is more Romanians than ever before, due to The Romanian's governments efforts in the 1970s to force minorities out of the area.

Who do you know that is from Transylvania?

Mine ancestors are form the area, and yet I find myself at a disconnect with the area since I have never lived there.

Memories are memories and some need to be preserved along with history.

Keep Reading

November 3, 2008

Thanks For The Look Up!

Wow, thanks everyone you made my life so much easier.

Shout out to the person who found that article, great work there, I happen to find it myself a couple of days ago and it works well to give more info.

The Saxons though by and large did not move around to much. They lived in villages and were Lutherans and farmers by and large, though a few made names for themselves.

Has anyone heard of John of Kronstadt?

He was a reformer of Transylvania Saxon origin. Martin Luther even makes mention of him.

Sorry no Dracula here.. by this time he died.

November 2, 2008

Would You Believe?

Comments: Do you think a person can make a good story?

I think so, and I am excited about writing about the Transylvanian Saxons....

How many interviews should be done with people?

These are the questions which i ask myself all the time...

October 31, 2008

Transylvanian Saxon Dress: Young Couple



This is what a Transylvania Saxons dress looks like- on both the man and the woman.  This style is often hand embroidered and made for the couple around the time of their confirmation into the Lutheran Church.  These would be worn on Sundays and special events
This is a married couple so the woman wears a cap which is embroidered delicately.
Though this is a younger couple, the older women would wear this as well, but would also wear a handkerchief around the cap. The day wear was different and not as intricate.

October 29, 2008

The Long And Short Of Fear

One thing about interviews and people....

Fear.

I can understand memories which are hard to deal with, but I suppose one can deal with certain events much better if they understood what helping means.

But than again we live in a culture that is gorged with fear that we will simply lose our history in fear that we might offend someone....

How about this what if we do and then save ourselves in the process? Is not knowledge power?

And then we do not hand it to our children?

This is the myth that the Saxons have right now, they expect their culture to survive without telling their stories.

THEY are WRONG.

The greatest myth ever told.

October 26, 2008

Is There Anyone Who Cares?

I held an especially moving interview with a gentleman form the Transylvania Saxons.

I try to quote his words as best I can

"We survived for almost 800 years in tiny communities and adapted. We kept our culture our language and our religion, and yet, now, I wonder does anyone really care if we survived at all? I do not have that answer as I now identify myself as a Canadian-- this being the same with many people, from Transylvania. Yet at heart i am still a Siebenburger Saxon. Does anybody care? I do not know"

It is harder to talk to people who lost so much to tell me about their lives, and often I wonder if what I am writing will make a difference, but I am sure that yes, people do care. People will care.

October 20, 2008

Transylvania and Germany

You Tell Me:

What do you know of the links between Transylvania and Germany? ( Especially during World War Two)

October 17, 2008

Count Dracula, Werewolves And Other Questions

There are many questions most people have when it comes to Transylvania, Romania and the legends surrounding it.





Who was Count Dracula Based On?: Count Dracula, the fictional title character of Bram Stoker's Gothic horror novel, Dracula, was based on a real person Prince Vlad III Tepes, of Wallachia, who would impale his prisoners and other political rivals, he was born in Transylvania but he would rule in the neighbouring principality of Wallachia, which was at the time a part of the Ottoman Empire.  Unlike Count Dracula, who traveled to England, Vlad and his younger brother were sent to the seat of the Ottoman Empire as a "gift" to the Sultan from their father.

Vlad would become cruel and use similar methods of torture on his enemies that the Turks used on theirs.  In the end, the stake would become his trademark— and Stoker would use this as a means to kill a vampire.

What were werewolves and were they important to Transylvania?: A legendary creature of the night.  There are many stories which says that a person once bitten by a werewolf will become on in the full moon, believed by some members of Western Europe though some people of Transylvania have claimed to never having heard of them.

Most of the communities who lived there had seen and knew of packs of wolves, so it is unlikely that they hadn't heard of some type of legendary creatures. The natural animals of Romania would have been legendary all on their own.


Where there more than one large group of people who were not Romanian or Hungarian in culture?: Yes, in Transylvania besides the large populations of Romanians and Hungarians there were Germans (known as the Saxons, or the Swabians in other areas outside of Transylvania) and Roma populations.  There were also many who were Jewish and who lived in large communities in Transylvania.





October 15, 2008

Dancing In The Moutains

Something which i learned over the past while is that the arts played a special part in the lives of the Transylvania Saxons.

Dancing and Eating.

I think it is possibly because to enjoy the people around you, there needed something for them. The men had beer and wine and the music bands, the women had their needle crafts.

But there was dancing.

The Saxons managed to keep it part of their lives along with their songs and a certain love of hard work and life.

I think dancing became their way to leave the hard work behind. It served them well as they are creative in many forms. it worked well.

Keep Dancing

October 14, 2008

Travel Times

It is hard to believe that most of the roads in Transylvania are not as good as the roads in Canada. But then again drive Highway 1 and you'll get a good idea.

In Transylvania many of the roads are paved and well kept for tourists. This is the important point. For Tourists.

The rest are gravel or dirt, and are not as accessible by car. In some pictures which I've seen are the villages in the Northern part, and some in the south where the center of the village road looks well, okay a potholes with roads type affair.

Then some don't have roads which are pave merely a gravel road. That since the early 1990s seem to not been fixed.

Perhaps it is because the land is largely inaccessible and largely since many of the people live in the larger cities in the area and the smaller villages are overlooked due to the Communists drive to make huge common houses int eh large cities and tearing down the smaller villages. To help grow and build "large cities"

That all ended in 1989. But, the villages are still hard to come by and have few basic needs met. Just as it was in the early part of the century.

October 10, 2008

Lives Remembered

I find it apt to talk about lives which people remember. Especially those of the Second World War many of whom died in the transition of people leaving home and to a new place. Of soldiers who died and no body found, yet.

To me the greatest myth is the myth that everyone who is not "big" does not lead a life extraordinary. They do. To their family, friends and neighbours.

The myth which broke for me was the simple act of interviewing family members for their memories of the people who died during the Second World War.

I found myself amazed at how much people remembered of a nineteen year old brother, a father, a young son. A forty Year old father. Men who died and pictures which though faded held so much more.

Their lives are remembered after all.

The best is the memorial to some of them which was found in Germany. So many stories and so many lives, and Transylvania found a way to honour her sons.

The best reality of all.

October 8, 2008

Little Lives Lost

Transylvania held so many people. Many of them worked as farmers and craftsmen and other "small" trades.

They lived hard lives and simply wanted to live and work and hope for a better life for their children. This often did not happen...

What did was many children some who would die and some who would live. Many women married young and the men would work in the farms or the cities and pay high taxes.

Such ran the life of the people who lived without much education or many rights.

Many people forgot them after a few years after they died. Yet they still created a life for their children and grandchildren and generation after.

In many ways much like it is today and much like ti will always be... yet...

many of the cultures of Transylvania are being lost because the Hungarians and Saxons and other groups left.

More memories and lives lost.

September 30, 2008

The More...

The most common question which I receive is "where is Transylvania?" no joke here. Or "Is that where Dracula is from?"

Transylvania is located in the northern part of Romania, bordering on Hungary. Once it was a part of Hungary.

The second question requires a bit more explanation. Vlad Dracul, the man, was born in Transylvania but he never really lived there. His kingdom was in what is now southern Romania.

The more things change the more they stay the same.

I wish that it would be easier to explain. It would also help if more people might know of the people and not the legends... I suppose it could be worse.

My new book on Transylvania Saxons in World War two is coming along well. I hope to start sending it out soon, maybe I should enlist the help of Dracula or some werewolves?

More myths to come.

September 27, 2008

Many Friendly People

One of the most enduring and romantic myths about Transylvania is the idea that everyone worked together and in harmony. There were many groups and they all got along, working together.

Great Myth.

It was Yugoslavia. These days though it is still part of Romania with mostly Romanians living there. Hardly any Germans, Hungarians, Gypsies, Jews or any other group who lived in the area for centuries.

Thanks World War Two for that. Also thank the First World War and mostly any power which wanted the area. Each time a new power came, they changed the power of the people, and one or two would have more rights then the others.

Yes there were many a friendly people, and still are, but not the way it used to be.

September 26, 2008

Transylvanian Ponderings

I've always had a fascination with my history. Maybe because with it I learn my own story, my own shortcomings and failures and triumphs and hopes in the context of my family.

Or maybe because there was no closure on my family in the Second World War, no one talked about their lives until now, that it holds me.

I find unlike the rest of my family who is content to follow travels and tours and simply have knowledge, I want something more intangible, the legends the stories, the truth and the good and bad.

For this to happen I found the myths which hold Transylvania unlock the keys of knowledge for me.

Dracula, and werewolves, Austrians Hungarians Romanians, Germans, Romans, History and myths... they all link together.

These are things about Transylvania.

September 25, 2008

Myths And The HUman Side Of It All

I've taken the time to reread Dracula and all those other wonderful myths that seem to come out of Transylvania.

I think the best thing one can say about myths is that there is always a human side to it.

Take for example our pop culture. Van Helsing being the most current example of putting two well known myths together. One thing which they forgot was that Transylvania was not all that cold and dark all the time.

Oh well, maybe I am one of the few who find humor in myths.

I suppose that going to see Transylvania and seeing the pictures of the green countryside would help many people.

Don't forget to go see Dracula's Castle, except that it was built in the last Century... for the tourist in all of us.

September 20, 2008

Changes For The Best?

Transylvania always was a land in flux, often because of the area which it was situated. The peoples and the area were highly valued by many countries and warlords.

The Hungarians were one of the many powers who controlled the fate of Transylvania. Many Germans argued that Transylvania was a free state and the land produced well and the people lived in harmony. The information given orally tells of similar things except...

This is the perfect myth.

Most of the peoples fought for rights and they battled a lot for the right to control their destiny. The Romanians wanted freedoms and often the power of the Germans settlers and Hungarians would not allow for this.

The other groups would fight between themselves to gain more power of more rights. This came to an end almost. In fact it never has.

The Romanians for now have the area and most of the other groups have left. In time this may change it all depends.

Even now, the area was never as peaceful as many of these groups like to make themselves out to be.

More myths and realities about Transylvania to come.

September 17, 2008

Waking Up History

Transylvania is the Latin name for "Land beyond the forest"

It really is in a forested area still, but nearly a thousand year ago, it had more forest and other wealth which one group craved. The Romans.

The tried many time to conquer Transylvania and the neighbouring area. They even named the area "Dacia" the settlements can still be found in many parts of Transylvania and greater Romania.

It took many years to gain a foothold in the area for the Romans, but it also was a way to protect them against the stronger forces of the barbarians (as they were known) from the east. Rome was under attack, yet used the passes of Transylvania as a defence,

Unlike what the Kings of Hungary would do later, they put their armies inside Transylvania and added their beliefs to the population. When the armies for Rome left legend has it that everyone left. This may not be the case since most of the poorer farmers would not leave their land, and most likely remained,

If this is the case, Transylvania has so much more to offer then anything else known in the area.

September 13, 2008

Werewolves And Other Dark Creatures Such as Count Dracula

Transylvania, Romania is home to some legendary creatures of darkness. Included is the werewolf.



The legend of the werewolf, though, is not simply part of Transylvania but many of the Eastern and Western European cultures have some ties to this. Yet in Transylvania the idea flourished.  Before they were hunted to near extinction, the wolf raised both fear and awe to the peoples in the Carpathian mountains.  Along with bears and large game animals, Transylvania used to have many animals which could seriously harm a grown adult.  The wolves in particular were feared because of their ferocious nature, and the fact that they were not domesticated.


A werewolf, according to the myth, is a man who becomes wolf at night, often under the light of the full moon. Once transformed, this creature would crave meat, in most cases the legend goes, it would crave human flesh.

There were many places where the werewolf and Dracula would be linked in modern pop culture, such as to how to kill a werewolf. Some things or objects such as crucifixes which stop a vampire will not stop a werewolf. Sliver, made into a bullet, can stop a werewolf but not any vampire, unless of course the silver is a stake driven into a vampire's undead heart. 

In Eastern Europe, the suggestion was said that if one looked at a wolf and saw human eyes looking back then that was a werewolf, which they must kill.  Count Dracula could be killed with sunlight.

I think that werewolves go as far back as Rome and since the Romans had conquered much of what is now Transylvania it might be where it started to take root.  Romulus and Remus were abandoned or orphaned and raised by a she-wolf.  The Roman empire would eventually invade the Dacian Empire, which Transylvania was a part of.  It is possible that this is where the myth of werewolves began.

Either way, many people will assume that a person from Transylvania will know of the more Westernised ideas of werewolves.  Yet the people of Hungary and Romania have many different stories as to how to become a werewolf. They have their own equally interesting legends and myths.

September 10, 2008

To Be There... With Music

In Hamelin, the music is an integral part of the the community, except for one street. There wedding processions and parades all go silent.

Legend has it this was the street which the Pied Piper took the children to the mountain never to be seen again.

There is a possibility that the children were killed, after all someone found bones of some children some years later. Not enough to account for all of them.

Later the most popular legend said that the children went to the Crusades. It would explain a lot except that many children died on the way there.

The most beloved is the taking of the children to Transylvania, this makes some sense as the King of Hungary invited people from Germany to populate the land. Maybe, this is the correct one, as seven hundred years later the people returned.

More myths to come...

September 7, 2008

The Pied Piper And Transylvania

The Pied Piper was a person who,according to myth, played his music and took the children away in Hamelin to the hills where they swallowed them all up.

Robert Browning, a poet, wrote the poem "the pied Piper of Hamelin" at the end he suggests that the children went to Transylvania.

Myths such as these give rise to the idea that the Transylvanian Saxons came via the mountains to Transylvania.

In fact the Saxons did. Almost. They came under the invitation of a King of Hungary. Not much is known about him except he actually existed.

In Germany there is a village by the name of Hamelin and the church there does have a stained glass commemorating the missing children of the village... some theories suggest that they did go to Transylvania under this invitation...

More Myths to come.

September 5, 2008

A Honey Jar And A Myth

Vlad died like any normal man would. Or perhaps not, he was killed in battle, either by a Turkish arrow or one of his own men. Whatever the means, he was dead. Now that he died, his enemies the Turks needed some way to make an example of him.

The Turks were brilliant. A little tasteless. But brilliant, they put the head of Vlad inside a jar of honey. This way it would remain in a better form until they presented it to the Sultan. I am quite sure the Sultan was happy to see his enemy dead.

Vlad's death would grow into a myth. One of them was a jar of honey. Some say it truly happened while others suggest he was simply left to rot where he lay.

Whatever the means of his death, the memories were strong enough that many people wrote about it. There is never enough information to allow for a true event of history.

Like Transylvania Vlad is surrounded in mists, and to aid these mists are hundreds of stories... and movies, at least his homeland is getting a good commentary for all this.

September 3, 2008

A Wife He Loved...

Vlad lost his first wife. He fought hard against the Turks. But his loss outweighed the victories he had over his enemy.

It was in fact the enemy which prompted his wife to commit suicide. They were nearing the castle and she did not want to become a slave-- or so people tell it. This much Bram Stoker had correct when he wrote the novel "Dracula" The river below the castle is named in her honor. The Lady's River.

What is ironic is that the love he held for her history never recorded her name.

Funny what happens when people die for their selves. Vlad's wife died to escape slavery. Vlad, though later ran to save himself. Later he would remarry a Hungarian Princess. He would make sure his name lived on in history.

His wives, through him did so as well. They often times did not have names, simply dates. This was love.

The Saxons of Transylvania wrote about him as did the Russian and Romanians. Most of what ended in Western Europe came form the Saxons, and they never liked him.

But Vlad had two women who did love him. He wasn't all that bad.

More myths to come....

September 2, 2008

Native To Transylvania?

Vlad was born in Transylvania. His father was Wallchian, part of present day Romania, and was its prince. Except that Vlad's father got driven out of Wallachia. His son was born in Transylvania where he took refuge.

Does that make him a native of Transylvania? In a sense yes.

Though there are examples of how royalty tend to bend the rules. Remember the crown prince of the former Yugoslavia? he was born in Britain, but the government made the room he was born in part of the country of Yugoslavia.

Many Romanian today consider Vlad to be their native son, they are right on two fronts. Transylvania is now a part of Romania, and Wallachia, where Vlad ruled, became Romania.

For lack of a better ideal yes Vlad, born in Transylvania is a native to Transylvania.

More myths to come...

August 31, 2008

Myths, Dracula and Transylvania

I have found that many people hear about Transylvania, but they really don't understand the background to the place most associate with Dracula. Not many can describe where one can find the location of Transylvania in terms of place in the world- they will ask where is Transylvania, or is this a real place?

Some people ask where is it- in Europe? Although some will suggest Romania, since they know a bit more of the area of central and Eastern Europe. To this extent they are correct, Transylvania is found in Romania. It is only when people ask is that where Count Dracula comes from that they are incorrect, and this is a long standing myth.

I think it is our North American Gothic culture which promotes this. A lot of people came to Romania- Germans, Roma, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Jews, and Romanians. Queen Marie of Romania, a British princess by birth, was crowned there. At that time in 1922 the area was home to many people of many different races. Some were even related to Vlad Tepes- members of the British Royal Family are related to him, although not any of the Romanian Royal Family.

People are interested when I tell them that my family is German, and also were known as Saxons, from the area.  They will generally ask if I know about Dracula.  Sometimes I answer we didn't. Sometimes I propagate the Count Dracula or werewolf myths. I tell them that howl at the moon. I play the voice of Dracula ('I want to have your blood').

Count Dracula seems to fascinate, but he is a work of fiction. The myth he existed is because of the man he was based upon.

Then I tell them that I am only joking- after all these are myths nothing real. Though it is fun to tell people about my family. It is more fun to tell them about the myths and the reality of what is true.  There is far more interesting facts in the real Transylvania  than any where else.

Vlad Tepes, prince of Wallachia, - real person, Count Dracula - not a real person.

Many people and cultures living in the area -Yes. All in harmony- not exactly.


August 30, 2008

Religion and Culture in Transylvania Romania

Transylvania map
map of Transylvania, Romania
Transylvania, Romania is, or was, a home to Hungarians, Germans, Romanians and other smaller groups, the Roma and Jews the most notable, also held many religions- Romanian Orthodox, Catholic and Lutherans.

People were, before the end of the Second World War, very devout to their personal beliefs and there are stories shared the entire village would follow the religion of the majority of the village. This was not hard since most of the smaller towns and villages were of one culture.

map of Romania
Romania
 For most people the fact of different religions is forgotten. This is an area where who you were culturally was as important as which religion you were a part of. People were a part of a 'family' which was an extension of their actual family- and this was the village they lived in. In many of the Saxon villages most of the people were related in some fashion.

The Catholic faith, held by most Hungarians, was strong within this community, when the Reformation came to Transylvania, most Hungarians remained Catholic. The Romanians adhered to the Romanian Orthodox Church- and this defined this culture. The Germans adhered to the Lutheran Church, after the Protestant Reformation made its way to Transylvania, Romania.


 In many villages people remembered that each group had its own village church. This held true even in the cities, and it would be the entire village who would convert to Lutheranism or remained Catholics or Orthodox.

Although each group mingled infrequently, the religions and languages developed and each accepted the other. Almost.


This is the myth, reality is that the people did not have much rights and often times there would be a questions of who was allowed to be where. Many Germans lived in their own villages with few others from different cultures. 

The same held true with the other cultures, it was not common for there to be intermarriages, and if a person had a 'different' last name- a more Italian name as opposed to German the family would take great pains to point out that this person had been a part of a village for centuries and was not Italian or whichever culture it was.

 Looking deeper, it can be noted that in each village there was always a few Romanians or Hungarians or even Italians in a larger German population- and the same would hold true in each village with a predominately Romanian or Hungarian group.

There are stories of how each group would out do the other with festivals and parades. After the First World War things changed and the Romanians would take away much land from the Saxons, Swabians and Hungarians who lived in Transylvania.

This would affect the people for many years, although when Transylvania was a part of Hungary (and the Austrian Empire) the Romanian people did not have the same rights as the others who were Catholic or Hungarian.

August 26, 2008

Cities in Transylvania, Romania

It's important to know there are many cities and towns in Transylvania, Romania, and there are equally as many places to visit and to find out more history than the city of Brasov or the famous Bran Castle, which was where the novel Dracula took place.  There is just as many smaller towns in the area of Transylvania.

Where is Transylvania?

First, and most important when it comes to seeing Transylvania is, many people think Transylvania borders most of Hungary or of the other smaller republics which border Romania.

 Transylvania itself is not as large as people believe, and many place the Banat within Transylvania.

 Transylvania proper is much more central and inside of Romania.  The towns most famous for people outside of Eastern and Central Europe are closer to what was once the border of Moldavia- a county in Romania or in Wallachia. A Concise History of Romania shares much of these facts and figures, and is an important book to read.

Which is not a part of Transylvania?

The counties which are a part of the Banat which borders Hungary are Timis and Caras-Severin, both of whom have played large roles in the politics of Romania in general. The 1989 Romanian Revolution was centered in Timis to begin with.

The smaller area of Bucovina is found in the Eastern part of Romania, and it is not a part of Transylvania.  The city of Alba Iulia is a part of Transylvania proper, and the surrounding towns are and have played important roles in the history of Romania.

Alba Iulia is where Queen Marie and King Ferdinand were crowned as King and Queen of Greater Romania after the First World War, they were crowned nearly ten years after they became monarchs.  This was due to the change in territory between Hungary and Romania.


The black church in Brasov- which is also close to Bran Castle, is an important part of the city.  Its history dates back to the middle ages, and earned its name after a fire nearly burned it all down.

This was also one of the main cities which took part in the Protestant Reformation- because of Johannes Honterus.

August 24, 2008

Changing Territories in Europe and Romania.

People from the area of Transylvania are people who were always on the move- at least in the political sense. They were Hungarian, part of the Austrian Empire and then part of Romania- some even are old enough to have birth certificates from the Empire of Austria. The people who lived during these times never actually moved though, just the area they lived changed hands- or at least the politics changed.

Over the past century Europe, and the countries and territories have changed greatly.  The people of Eastern and Central Europe who were farmers and not powerful in ways which would help them.  Romania, was a young country in comparision to many, but the area around what would become Greater Romania was home to many who were ethically: Romanian, Hungarian or German.  There was already a large population of Romanians in Transylvania, and when the territory changed in 1919, they were pleased to be Romanian.

 However, changing territory did not mean everyone would be pleased, and the Hungarians of Transylvania, Romania were not.  They saw themselves as Hungarian, but politically and nationally they were Romanians.  There are also many who see Romania as home to others- or rathe more mythical people.

Similar to the the land are the myths that grew from the area of Transylvania- more specifically Count Dracula and vampires. Maybe Bram Stoker shouldn't have looked around for the area which he felt would be removed from the way the British viewed life. These days, Transylvania really doesn't look like how he describes, mostly because beyond the fact he saw the territory in Hungary, he also didn't do as much research in a fiction novel. One of the cities in the novel, it does get right, but it was with help from others.  The main character is a myth.  The territory around bran castle- or Dracula's Castle is not quite the territory people think it is.

Vlad Tepes, was a prince of Walachia not of Transylvania.  He was a younger son, but was never a 'count.'  He was a warlord who killed and was eventually killed, but this was the life he lead in the era he lived in.  Count Dracula was more or less immortal, but Stoker based him off of names and some myths he had heard.  Stoker also never visited the Austro-Hungarian Empire and was looking to make money on his book.

Robert Browning, poet of fine regard, though came closer to a truth then a myth.

The Pied Piper of Hamelin is worth the read, especially if you find the long edition of this poepm. The ending if one is strongly interested in the people who came from Germany.  The Saxons are the one mentioned by him as the children whom the Piper takes away.

It would be even more interesting if myths from Hungary became part of Transylvania.... a saint perhaps? or a king?  What about a deeper understanding of how others felt about the changing territories over the last 100 years?

August 22, 2008

Myths and the Transylvanian Saxons

Transylvania, and Romania are both places where myths and legends seem to grow as well as the history and culture of the people who live there.  Not to mention Dracula,  or the famous castle in the area (Bran Castle) which is something some people I've talked to say they never heard of until they came to North America, but then there are the wolves.

Take for instance, the myth of werewolves. They are not really part of the Transylvanian Saxons culture but they are part of the Romanian and Hungarian cultures, which shows how unique and different each of the peoples of Transylvania are. The one thing all three had in common was they all held firm to the belief in the werewolf existed.

I am certain that the Saxons of Transylvania did so as well, but they wouldn't admit to such a thing. Having come from parts of what would become Germany, they saw themselves as hardworking and practical.  The towns and cities bore this out, and even the castles that they helped to build. 

Most people do not like to be told that they are wrong, and this is true with this community.  There is a strong oral tradition which has been passed down over the centuries.  However, when asked, many of the people commented they had never heard of Dracula, but had heard of werewolves and the myth of the man turning into wolves.


Werewolves somehow began to fascinate me- because they are part of many culture's myths and legends, but each one is different. Maybe it is because I like the horror genre, and how Romania came to become the centre for "Gothic" life, or rather its castles and Dracula, the myth, have become interwoven with modern Romania- or Transylvania. 
Maybe the culture in which I live doesn't help me much, again most of these people consider themselves practical and  don't adhere to myths or anything of the sort.  Part of that was a bit of a lie, or a hidden part that people didn't, and wouldn't talk about. I found myself in a disconnect with people from the Saxon areas since they do not look to these myths as something to talk about.


August 6, 2008

Is Count Dracula A Real Person?

Dracula, or Count Dracula is not real.  He is the major character in the Gothic novel by Bram Stoker entitled Dracula .  There is nothing real about vampires, or one Count Dracula- or at least based on what some Gothic horror fans would like.

Most people who are not from Transylvania or Romania, identify with the Count Dracula, and the descriptions of the land of Transylvania as their main guide to what Dracula should be and who he was.

What they tend to forget is this 'person' wasn't real, this is a great work of fiction, which is providing the author's heirs with money they can use to have a better lifestyle. Stoker, was a writer who generally didn't write this type of fiction, and he would be famous for this one book.

This being said however, there is many myths which have grown into money making events for the land of Romania- even several cities in Transylvania boast of 'hotel Dracula' within their city limits.  There is a hotel Dracula, and Bran Castle, which was the home of Queen Marie of Romania after the end of the First World War, is a draw for Gothic lovers worldwide.  In a sense, the very unreal Dracula, is making very real money for Transylvania, and the Romanian economy.

The person whom Stoker based his Dracula on was a composite character- one based on Vlad Tepes, a Wallachian prince, and sometime warlord, who impaled his enemies by driving a stake though them, and Elizabeth Bathory, also known as the Countess of the Blood due to her serial killings of young women and her reported bathing in their blood.  Stoker, however focused on the man- Tepes as his lead character.

It is important however, to see the Count's three helpers were female and were far more blood thirsty than he ever was.  While the Count obsessed with Mina Harker, his Brides of Dracula were far more interested in Jonathan Harker.  This is very similar to Bathory, although it is not acknowledged as such in the novel.

August 4, 2008

Transylvania Is Not About Little Red Riding Hood

The more I hear about Transylvania the more I like about it. It is not about Little Red Riding Hood.


The stories that I am told are unique and at the same time are similar. I spent several hours with people from the area, and have learned a great deal about what, and how they viewed the myths and legends of Transylvania.  Speaking with some of the German Saxons who live nearby, I asked them specifically about the Pied Piper and Dracula.

They all laughed about Count Dracula, many making the long commentary on how Westerners view Transylvania, and what they think it is all about.  Most even said that they didn't know much about Count Dracula, but they had heard of Vlad Tepes, who was the man Bram Stoker based his novel, Dracula on.  

However, upon the mention of the Pied Piper, something I didn't expect happened.  They would pause, think for a moment, and say that Robert Browning might have been correct.


A legend, written by a man who had never set foot in Transylvania, might be true it has helped people whose families lived in the area be able to make connections with others about the land and its people Romania Explained To My Friends Abroad: Take Away Romania helps with the simple explanations  but there is more to this country and this area than simple writing. In the German tradition, the Saxon who lived there were from Hamelin- it is a lovely myth, but not entirely without a grain of truth.  There is an element of history to the legends.

  The Transylvanian Saxon people were not all from Saxony, some of these Germans came from the Rhineland area, and some from other parts which became Germany.  It could have happened that a messenger asked the people to come to Transylvania, and had younger children follow him.  Hungary and Romania would view this land as part of their own country, but the Germans would always be a minority in this area.

However, after these conversations I am beginning to wonder about Count Dracula, Vlad though, still interests me- a man to Impaled people must make quite a story.  Little Red Riding Hood and her fight with the wolf seems to have nothing on these legends.

July 30, 2008

Don't Get lost in the Woods

The natural flora and fauna of Transylvania has captivated me as writer for many years, and and the history of the name Transylvania follows that. In times past, it would take many days to travel across the land since it is filled with woods and mountains and rivers. These days, what took days will often only take a few hours but a person will miss much of what nature has to offer to get to the castles and legends that they hold.

I think that is why Bram Stoker decided when he was writing Dracula to build up the nature element to the area- it is a wonderful place in terms of natural beauty.  The looming cliffs and mountains and the dark forests.  It proved to be exactly what a reader would want in something dark.  However, Transylvania has more to offer a tourist than legends and castles, many of the plants and animals who live in the area are, sadly, endangered.

Stoker was Irish so perhaps the land was a type of romantic feel for him since it may have reminded him of home.  It probably did not mean much to him about environmentalism as it does today.  Many castles in the area are on protected grounds and the peoples of the area use tourism as a means to gain income.  Romania itself is a wonderful place to go and see and part of it is because of Transylvania.




There are other legends that can be found there as well. When reading Robert Browning's Pied Piper re-reading the last verse about where people came from  this is not found in every edition of the Pied Piper, but if it an interesting one to read if you do find it.  The idea then flow that from the German Saxons who, according to Browning, came to the land beyond the forest and remained there-- coming out of a hill, which the poet suggests was the place where the Pied Piper lead the children to.  The people built houses and farms and large cities, but unlike the Pied Piper, they were invited by a King of Hungary to help defend the land.

This makes for great writing, and this is the foundation I am looking to build on when writing a book on Transylvania.  It is important to understand the legends and the peoples before you can build on the places and give the readers more.


July 29, 2008

Dracula and Other Facts About Transylvania


What would Transylvania do without Count Dracula?


Count Dracula is a money making topic when it comes to Transylvania, and Romania. This is in large part due to Bram Stoker and his gothic novel Dracula.  To suggest that this timeless piece of  writing is fantastic in terms of a horror novel and it is one which people can read to get a vague idea of Transylvania. The first chapter alone can make people see what they would like to see about Transylvania through the eyes, and more specifically the writings of Jonathan Harker.  The others who tell the tale don't go into detail about Transylvania, so the reader only has Harker to rely on.

This does not give a reader a proper idea, historically or factually speaking, of the land and its people in the 19th Century.  It comes from the mind of a writer who wanted to publish out of his genre of writing.  I am not  sure if he found that 

What most people who follow the book Dracula, or the gothic culture surrounding vampires, do not realize is that there are countless cultures that up until recently flourished within the area.

Count Dracula is a fascinating character, but the man whom this legend is based on is much more fascinating, as are the people and cities of the land itself.  It is possible because he is one of the many links to Transylvania and its people have to the larger world outside of Romania.  Bram Stoker decided upon a good character for his novel.  He did base his main vampire on one man.

Vlad Tepes, the man who has inspired the writer to write one of his most immortal novels, was different: he was born in Transylvania and fought against the Turks. he impaled people using wooden stakes. His name was Vlad III Tepes Dracul, but became known as Vlad the Impaler for his methods of killings became legendary-- he would kill his victims using a wooden stake.  One point of note: it was Count Dracula lived in Bran Castle, not Vlad Tepes.