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...