March 30, 2012

Self-Publishing About Transylvania

Writing a book about Transylvania is one thing, but writing about the history of World War II and the people of Transylvania is another. Most readers of history find that the information about Transylvania and its part in the Second World War is informative and sometimes different than what they might have imagined.

This was one of the challenges of writing about Transylvania. The other challenge is verifying the information I found about Romania, and Hungary and the Second World War. It is harder to find information about this area since most people who have published works about Transylvania have self-published their books.

Romania and Hungary have changed a lot since the end of the last major war, but the tensions of the past still remain.  Transylvania has history in both countries, but the wider world doesn't have a good idea of what happened during the Second World War because most writers focus on the Eastern and Western Fronts of the war.  If they don't have much history then  travel and tourism (or books on Dracula) are always very popular topics to publish books on.

There are both positive and negatives to self-publishing a book about Transylvania -- the topic of the land and its history.  One of the many reasons I decided to self-publish my book is that I wanted to make it available to readers in Germany and the United Kingdom.

March 28, 2012

Count Dracula and The Many "Faces" of the Novel

The novel, written by Bram Stoker, is highly popular in North America, and there have been countless movies, TV shows, and other forms of entertainment based upon this novel.  Count Dracula, the character who made Transylvania famous, is based on a real person.

The novel also made a castle famous, but the central character, Count Dracula, did not exist.  Due to the book's popularity, the cover of the novel Dracula has changed over time.  These three are some of the "faces" of the novel over the years.

The first novel was a simple outline -- a yellow cover with red writing, but after its success, most of the covers either had Count Dracula or Bran Castle on the front cover.  What makes it more interesting is that the person writing the novel never visited the land he wrote about, but and instead he based his most famous interior on the catacombs of London.

March 26, 2012

Bran Castle and Peles Castle

Vlad Tepes, better known to many in the western Hemisphere as Count Dracula, is linked with Bran Castle... except that the person never lived there or used it as a residence, however, as a tourist attraction in Transylvania, it is an important place to see.  There is a small chance that he was imprisoned there, in Bran Castle, as a prisoner of the Kingdom of Hungary, but that is local legend.

Bran Castle was built to protect the people of Western Europe from the Mongol invasion of 1241. During this time, most of the area of Transylvania was destroyed, but then it was rebuilt. This also includes Bran Castle.

There is another famous castle in Romania, and it was built far later than Bran Castle. Peles Castle (also a royal palace) was built in the late 1800s, after the independence of Wallachia and Moldavia was gained from the Ottoman Empire. After this, Peles became the royal residence of the Romanian Royal family.  Queen Marie of Romania is the best known member of this family.

Peles Castle is found closer to Bucharest than is Bran Castle, so it is better described as a Wallachian Castle.  This particular castle was never a part of the Kingdom of Hungary, but it now plays an important tourism role as well.

The Queen is a real person, but she had a memorable personality and was one of the reasons that some people in Transylvania say that the additional land Romania received was in part thanks to her. Peles Castle and Bran Castle, after 1919, were two of her Royal Residences.

March 23, 2012

How Much Money Does Transylvania Make Romania?

Do you think that everything should be about making money or the economy when it comes to the value of a country or part of a country? I believe it is important that each part of a country makes money for the country. It is important to keep the economy going. Each area, such as Transylvania in Romania, should create jobs and money for the people of the area.  Part of the economy of transylvania is natural resources, and another important part of this is tourism.

Tourism is a big generator of money, and you can see that money has been spent on the restoration of Bran Castle as an investment in that tourism industry.  However, the money which people give at the entrance of Bran Castle does not go towards the GNP of Romania because Bran Castle is a privately owned castle.  The owners are the decendents of Queen Marie of Romania's youngest daughter.  She became an Archduchess of Austria-Tuscany,

So how much money do you think Transylvania makes for Romania? Think about writing, especially about novels and authors and how they generate money that Transylvania gives for Romania.  The Gothic community plays a major role in tourism and there are many 'hotel dracula' in the Brasov area because of its close proximity to Bran Castle.

This might also include Hungary and the Austrian Empire when Transylvania was a part of these territory, but money was not a factor at that time- the factor in the people and kingdoms wanting this land was because of power, and strategic importance.  What was a factor was the power that came with the territory that each country had- the more places they could easily defend the better.

Factoring in tourism and the royal places and information, the GDP Romania generates from Transylvania is about 35% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of Romania. This makes the fact that Transylvania makes money for the country it is in all the more important.

March 21, 2012

Maps of Transylvania in Hungary, the Austrian Empire and Romania

What can a map about Transylvania tell us about Hungary, Austria and Romania?

There are many maps one can look at to learn about the people and the land of Transylvania.  I particularly like looking at maps because sometimes they can speak from the past far better than people can write.  You can create a map, but then you can also argue over it.  People can say that this map shows a more German influence, and was possibly produced for the people who spoke German.  Under the heading Transylvania, a person can see the German title "Siebenbergen" which was roughly translated in English to: seven castles.

Transylvania itself gives a person so much to think about and so do the maps.  They show the relationship between Hungary and Transylvania, and they also show Romania and the principalities which became Romania in the 1800s.  However, it wasn't until 1918 when the people of Transylvania decided to form a union with Romania, the notable exception being the Hungarians who wished to remain in union with the Kingdom of Hungary.

Before this time, the Grand Principality of Transylvania, was a part of the Empire of Austria, as was the Kingdom of Hungary. In fact, the map to the left shows the large area which the Austrian Empire had.  The Kingdom of Romania bordered this Empire, which was more of a patchwork of people and cultures.

Each map shows different details, and this is important when researching Transylvania and where it lies within Europe.  The map to the right shows a person Transylvania in Hungary and the surrounding Central European countries.  This map is a also a work of art, and it is debatable if the people who produced it saw it as more of an informative map or as a work of art.  This shows the grow of Central Europe and the Kingdoms which were founded following the many uprisings against the Ottoman Empire.

This is a further breakdown of the land of Transylvania, Romania and where it was.  The Banat and Crisana, and some other places are shown so that a person can understand "where is Transylvania?".  Often most people who have never been to Romania or Hungary do not realize that the Banat borders the country of Hungary.  The Banat, is not a part of Transylvania proper but many consider it to be a part of the larger more ancient principality.

March 19, 2012

Hungary and Transylvania Pre 1914 to Post 1944

Many people of different cultural backgrounds lived In Transylvania before the Second World War, when many left or were forced to evacuate from the area.  These included ethnic Romanians who made up the majority of the population of Transylvania before the First World War.  There were also many others of Hungarian background and German background.

This map above shows where most of the Saxons (what many of the Germans in Transylvania were called) lived within the borders of Transylvania.  It gives one a good idea of where some people lived when Transylvania was a part of Hungary.  This was a time where the people of Transylvania lived within a huge empire called the Austrian Empire.  For recording purposes, Transylvania was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary.

There were many Hungarians in Transylvania.  Transylvania and Hungary were important defensive positions, especially during the 1241 Mongol invasion.  During this time, there were many fortifications which were built by the people of Transylvania to protect Hungary and Western Europe.  The people of Tranylvania were often the ones who suffered greatly for Hungary.

Tranyslvania and Hungary played an important part in the history of Europe.  This is also true of Romania, except that Romania, as a country, was not formed until the late 1800s.  Now, after the Second World War, there are many people from Tranyslvania who have migrated to Hungary and Germany.  I published a book which you can buy on and about several Transylvania Saxon soldiers, some of whom later migrated from Transylvania to new homelands.

March 17, 2012

Map of The Kingdom of Hungary With Tranyslvania

Most people look at a map of Romania and think that the country as you see it now on a map has been exactly like that since its unification as a country.  However, part of what we see today really was added to Romania after the end of World War I.

Most notably, Hungary, or the Kingdom of Hungary which was a part of the Austrian Empire, had Transylvania as a part of its territory.  The land was large, and during the later years of the Austrian Empire, it was home to a lot of Germans whom the Austrians assumed would support them in times of both war and peace.

There were always many things that Transylvania had in its land that most of the area of Romania and Hungary wanted.  It had many natural resources, and it also had many defensive positions and castles.  This also now increases the tourism in Romania.

However, at the time of the Kingdom of Hungary Transylvania was a part of it, and there are many maps that illustrate that information.  The maps of the Kingdom of Hungary including Transylvania often show it in its most eastern part.  By 1867, the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary merged to become the dual monarchy.

After World War I and the fall of the Hapsburg monarchy, the land of Transylvania and its people voted to join with Romania.  This happened after 1919, and between 1940 and 1944 the Northern part of Transylvania joined with what was still called the Kingdom of Hungary.  This is all written in history books, which most people have read.

March 16, 2012

Publishing a Book On Transylvania? Plan on Writing About Castles

'The many castles of Transylvania' seems to be a very popular subject.  And one of the most famous castles is found within the borders of Transylvania.  Bran Castle is well known, and there have been countless books written on the subject of Dracula and Bran Castle.

If you intend to publish a book about Transylvania, it might be wise to write about the many castles of Transylvania.  The problem is that publishing a book is not that simple.  One can spend years writing about the ruins of Alba Iulia and its citadel.

That one has a lot of history, and it would be something that people would want to read about.  However, there are other castles which are equally as interesting.  Hunyadi castle has undergone extensive restoration, and one could write about that castle and the family who lived there.

There would be a "Dracula" connection, for Hunyadi and the Tepes family were at odds.  John Hunyadi also has a connection with Alba Iulia, and in that he was buried there.  These are the peoplewho made these castles famous, and "put" Transylvania on the map.  Since this time, most tourists associate Transylvania with castles.

Plan on writing about castles?  I think that you could.  After all, it is what Transylvania is famous for and what people seem to think about when looking for information about Transylvania.  The thing most people forget is that Transylvania has a much deeper history than that.

Many see that it is the people who made the castles and not the other way around.  For its castles and many other reasons, Transylvania will always be an important part of Europe.

March 14, 2012

In Search of The Lost Ones on Kindle.

I'll have a bit more to post about Kindle and Kindle Select but for now, I wanted to let you all know that In Search of the Lost Ones is available on Kindle.  This is a huge step for me, and I thank you for your support.  Publishing a book about Transylvania isn't easy, but you helped me along the way!

You can find my book on most Amazon sites such as the UK Website, and the US Website and also the German Website.  If you look closely, you will notice that all of the Kindle editions were published on December 12, 2011.  However because I enrolled them in the Kindle Select program, and was required to follow their Terms of Service, I could not promote them on my blog for a certain period of time.

As of today, now I can.

At the moment I have decided that the price of the Kindle edition is $2.99US (the counterpart in UK pounds and Euros are the equivalent.)  I want to see how it does.  I think this is a fair price, and now that I can promote it, should encourage people to buy and read my book.

I am so pleased that this has happened and I hope to see you there and enjoying the book. Transylvania is vital to people and they need to know the history of the land.  This goes beyond simply Dracula or anything else, but more to allow people to know more about Transylvania.

March 13, 2012

Bran Castle, Transylvania and Royalty.

While Bran Castle is an important tourist attraction for people interested in both the history of Dracula and Transylvania, there is another royal link which people do miss out upon. As Transylvania was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary, it was also an important defensive point against many invaders.

Set between Wallachia and Transylvania, it was in one of the routes the Mongols, and the Ottomans needed to pass through it to get to a very important city- Vienna.  This was  the most direct route.  The invaders wanted the natural resources and, more importantly, more slaves or people whom they could use for labor.

There were many men of royal and noble birth who fought against these invading forces. The main problem was that they also fought amongst each other.  For example, the Prince of Wallachia, Vlad Tepes II, father of Vlad Tepes III (better known to people as Dracula) and a Hungarian nobleman by the name of Hyundai ended an alliance and created a bitter dispute between themselves.

Legend has it that Vlad Tepes II was also exiled and imprisoned in Bran Castle by the Hungarian nobility.  Of course, this is much the same as it was when Transylvania was an independent principality.

The castles of Transylvania still play an important role in Romania, as they make money for the people of Transylvania, and Romania by employing people in the course of their restoration and also by generating income from tourism.  This has helped increase the GDP in Romania, and also as many of these castles were former royal residences, this is an important part of the long history to Bran Castle.  It is also an important part of the history of the Hungarian and Romanian Royalty.

March 10, 2012

Map of the Principality of Tranyslvania

There are many maps of Transylvania for researchers to find, but it is very hard to find very detailed maps of the principality of Transylvania.  This is because of the time period during which it was a principality.  At that point in time, people drew maps by hand.

The map above shows the principality of Transylvania around the year 1606. At this point it was not independent; it was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary.  Then it was a part of the Austrian Empire and so it was no longer a principality.

Of course, maps changed as countries merged and broke away, and this is why the labels on maps of Transylvania changed on a regular basis.

This is another picture that depicts the territory in 1600.  It illustrates that the three principalities of Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldavia were untied together.  During this time, Michael the Brave ruled, or united, the three principalities together. After this, Transylvania was ruled by the many princes of Transylvania, and the most recent of these is the current pretender to the Austro-Hungarian throne.

Again, it is hard to find maps of the independent principality of Transylvania, but it is important to kmow that such a principality existed, even without the influence of Vlad Tepes.

March 8, 2012

Who Was More Important? : King Michael of Romania or Stalin?

There are so many people who now play or have played an important role in the history of Transylvania.  During World War II there were two people who played very important roles in Romania and Transylvania.

These two men were Joseph Stalin, the leader of Soviet Russia, and King Michael of Romania. 

Michael instigated a coup against the government who fought alongside the Nazi regime, and that decision is said to have shortened the war by six months.  Romania eventually became an ally of the United States, Great Britain and Soviet Russia.

Stalin forced Michael's abdication after the war.  Michael proved to be a popular King, and some people in Romania would like to see his return as a constitutional monarch.

However, Stalin was the leader of a country which was pivotal in the war and viewed by both Great Britain and America as vital to stopping Hitler and the Nazis.  Stalin also believed that Hitler would never attack him.  The Nazis did do this, and with Romania and Hungary as allies, tried to fight the Soviet Army.

Stalin's involvement was important because it allowed more time for the British and Americans to gain some territory in Western Europe and fight the Nazis on the Western front.  However, Stalin was important enough in his own right to gain control of Romania, and much of Eastern Europe.

Stalin did not have much interest in Transylvania, but he was interested in oil, and Romania and Transylvania had a lot of it.

March 5, 2012

Why Was Stalin Interested in Tranyslvania?

Most people think of Stalin and Russia, but they do not think about the other Eastern European countries that would have been more than a passing interest to him.  In fact, he wanted to control every aspect of the lives of people who lived in the Eastern Countries, and not just those in the USSR.

One of these countries was Romania. However, unlike Poland and other smaller countries in the Eastern bloc, it had something that could be used as a bargaining chip, and that was in Transylvania. At the time, there was a very intense interest in oil. This was after the Second World War, and oil was needed more for rebuilding or creating more of a power base.

Stalin wanted to retain power, and there were oil fields in the Southern area of Transylvania that produced much of the Romanian oil supply. This was one of the only reasons why he was interested in Transylvania, or more specifically in Romania at all.  The country had something he needed and could not control.

He influenced Transylvania in many ways. He forced the abdication of King Michael of Romania, and saw that the communist government gained power.

People Who Influenced Transylvania

Below are images and pictures of people who influenced Transylvania.  Do you agree with them or no?

Of all of these people, who made Transylvania what it is today?

March 2, 2012

Writing a Blog About Transylvania: The Challenge

Most people who read or want to read a blog seem to understand that the writer is writing about a specific topic.  For example, this blog is about Transylvania.  This subject does not come without challenges.  One of those is, we have to know a lot of facts and details about the geography of Transylvania and also about its history and its surrounding legends.

Writing a basic blog needs another set of eyes to look it over before it is published since, more often than not, there are facts that might have been covered in posts the author has written before, but might need to be mentioned again to support the current post's ideas.  We write this blog with a long term commitment in mind.  In fact when it was first begun the idea was that it will last at least 10 years.

That's a lot of writing about history and people and places.  Fortunately for us, Transylvania is not a small place and it gives us a lot of information and inspiration to work with.  One only needs to think of Bran Castle to understand this.  Search for when Bran Castle was built or who lived there, and there is a lot of historical information there.

In many ways, writing a blog about Transylvania is like publishing a book about it: all the facts need to be checked three or four times.  There is also upkeep involved in creating and building on popular posts.  One post only had pictures but after I added more information it became a highly popular place for readers to go to.

A blog is a challenge, but it is one that we truly enjoy particularly since we are writing about a vast and fun topic: Transylvania, Romania.

March 1, 2012

When Was Bran Castle Built?

This particular version of Bran Castle is a restoration of the much older castle. However when the castle was originally built by the Teutonic Knights it was not at all like the images most people have come to associate with Bran Castle. It was a wooden fortress, and it was built in approximately 1219.

A few years later, that fortress was destroyed during one of the many invasions in that area.  In 1242, rebuilding began.  Key people who aided in its rebuilding were the citizens of the city of Brasov, which  was home to many Saxons.

It was only in 1920 that much of the structure we associate with Bran Castle was renovated because at that time it became a one of the royal residences of Romania. Dracula, or rather Count Dracula of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula is most often associated with this castle.  The castle as we see it today was rebuilt in 1920, and also in the 1960s when the government needed tourist money.  Before that it nearly fell into ruin. 

Bran Castle is now restored and is owned by Queen Marie of Romania's descendants. They have owned the castle since it was restored to them in 2005.