June 29, 2012

More On Transylvania....

It's not easy writing a book, and it's even harder when it is about Transylvania.  I've been busy with many things but never fear, I've not forgotten this community.  It's important to focus on one thing.

My focus is on a book about Transylvania, so  I truly haven't forgotten about this blog or about Transylvania.

New post up soon.

June 25, 2012

Michael the Brave, And A King and Queen of Romania

Michael the Brave should be better known than anyone in Transylvania. (This also includes Vlad Tepes, or Dracula). There is something about him and the era he lived in that makes Transylvania fascinating.  Alba Iulia, the city he entered in the picture below, also played an important role in the growth and history of Transylvania.

This city was also important to Queen Marie of Romania and her husband King Ferdinand, as they were crowned King and Queen of Greater Romania.  This happened after the gathering in Alba Iulia where the people of Transylvania decided that to unite with Romania.

This once again changed the map of Europe, and since 1919 most of Transylvania has been a part of the country of Romania.

June 23, 2012

Five Maps of Transylvania: Showing a History of Transylvania

There is so much a map can tell you and can give to you.  Maps speak words that writing simply can't.  These maps illustrate what Transylvania was like over the years.

1599-1600 was the year that Transylvania was united with Wallachia and Moldavia. This would not happen again until 1919.

This shows what how Transylvania was situated within in the Kingdom of Hungary.  At this time, there was no country of Romania, but soon this would happen -- about 200 years after this map was drawn.

The Princedom of Romania came into being, and then there was tension for some 40 years before the First World War. The end result was that Transylvania was given to Romania.

During World War II, Transylvania was divided between Romania and Hungary, The yellow highlighted area belonged to Hungary from 1940-1945.

This is the map of modern-day Romania that most people recognize from the end of World War II. Transylvania is on the border of Hungary and remains within Romania.

June 19, 2012

Is Transylvania all about Vlad III the Impaler?

One might argue that the extent of what most people know about Transylvania can be summed up in one or two words:  "Vlad Dracula."  (Or "Where is Transylvania?" Well, it's in Romania, and Romania is found in Eastern Europe.)

However, this can lead to the question is Transylvania all about Vlad III the Impaler?  He was born there while his father was in exile from Wallachia.  He did many of his deeds in Transylvania, and he earned his name "Impaler" in Transylvania.

However, Transylvania is not all about Dracula, or even Vlad the Impaler. He was a Prince of Wallachia, and he was only made famous by the novel Dracula.  So, although there is a tourist element which embraces Vlad the Impaler, there is so much more to Transylvania than him.

June 17, 2012

The Book: Bram Stoker's Dracula

It is only fitting that one of the best known "people" from Transylvania is not a real person, and the person who wrote the novel never went to Transylvania to see the famous Bran Castle.  Even more than 100 years since the novel was published, it is still one of the "best" ways people find out about Transylvania.

Gothic horror aside, Bram Stoker didn't have much success in sales of this book before he died.  He would not have direct descendants, but a grand-nephew tried his hand at sequel to the story.

The fictional character of Dracula was based on a person, however loosely, but Bram Stoker's Dracula book makes the land come alive, and he must have seen photos of the area.  He wrote of several cities, and this is possibly one of the main reasons people want to see Transylvania. (I am referring mostly to the North American audience.)

Romania, however, was not exposed to the Gothic phenomenon as much as a more North American audience has, from movies to comedy to just about anything, Dracula is the foundation for horror.  Stoker knew he was doing something correctly.  He did his research and wrote about a city in Transylvania, except he made changes to the geographical locations in many cases. Brasov, which is closer to bran Castle is not mentioned as much as Bistritz, which is in the North.

 This is the first edition book for Dracula, and it is very plain and simple, but still after 100 years, its once a time style of writing makes people want to read and to see more of Transylvania.  People want to feel scared or excited and Hollywood has a gold mine of information for the next while.

However, the book has helped not the Stoker family per say, as they are now deceased, but rather it has allowed a larger audience to know about Tranyslvania, and Romania.

June 14, 2012

Castles of Transylvania, And One In Slovakia

Bran Castle is by far the best known castle in Transylvania, and it is an important tourist attraction for many people.  It is also made famous by writer Bram Stoker.

Another castle which is still found in Transylvania is that of Vlad Tepes' rival, Johann Hunyadi, a Hungarian nobleman.  This castle has been restored and it is also a tourist site that people can visit while in Romania.

Here are three more castles in Transylvania, Romania, or were in the borders of what was Transylvania. They are: Beitran, which is more of a city fortress, but not as many believe the Countess of the Blood's castle which is in Slovakia, and also the citadel and fortress like birthplace of Vlad III Tepes.

Note: that not only is the the Bathory castle is in a protected park and will not be restored to its original state, it was never within the borders of Transylvania.

June 11, 2012

Transylvania and Romania: 1919 and Beyond

The country of Romania has changed a lot in the last century. 

 Romania became a nation in 1859- when Wallachia and Moldavia united to become the Princedom of Romania.  This new nation was a merging of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, not of Transylvania, which was a part of Hungary, and the Prince (Domitar) of the newly formed country was Alexander Cuza.

He was deposed and the next person, Carol would become Prince of Romania and subsequently King of Romania. His nephew Ferdinand would become king after him, and it was during his reign Romania as people know it became a reality.

It wasn't until 1919 that Transylvania became a part of what was known as Greater Romania.  It took 60 years for this event to take place, and it was only due to the First World War this happened.

In 1919, there were many different cultures in Transylvania:  Ethnic Hungarians, Germans, Romanians and Jews were some of the largest groups. (At this point, and at least since about 1730, the majority of people who lived in Transylvania were of a cultural Romanian origin although there was no Romania at this time)

After 1919, there was another turning point for many people who lived in Transylvania (including the Saxons and Hungarians). After World War I, there was a push for more rights for the Romanians who lived in Transylvania and also for the freedom of the Romanian Orthodox Church. 

There were other disputes and arguments, but for the most part, these disagreements remained peaceful.

Although Transylvania as a whole has not been part of any other country since that time, Northern Transylvania became a part of Hungary between 1940-1945, as a part of the Vienna Awards.  Transylvania and Romania have, over the years, built a good economy which has helped  much of the rest of Romania grow.  One of the main sources of income is tourism based on Dracula and Bran Castle.  The tourism industry accounts for much of the GDP coming from Transylvania, although natural resources also play an important role.

June 8, 2012

Images of Dracula and Bran Castle

Count Dracula and Bran Castle seem to be linked for all time. 

The confusing idea for many tourists is that Queen Maria of Romania, and her eventual descendants own the castle, and not the Romanian government.  Not only that but it is not the Romanian Royal Family, but rather the family of her youngest daughter and Archduchess of Austria And, Count Dracula did not exist - Vlad Tepes did.

Bran Castle is located near the city of Brasov, Romania.  Brasov is one of the larger cities of the country and it is home to many different cultures, and its history is equally as interesting as Bran Castle.

Bran Castle was built by the Teutonic Knights before their eventual departure from Transylvania and the surrounding areas.  This was their building, but over the years it changed hands. Legends say it was the home of Vlad Tepes, but the most people have found was it was his prison for a time, while he was being held captive.

Countless tourist who visit Romania and Transylvania see it each year.  Some people also think that Vlad Tepes III was imprisoned in Bran Castle.  There are countless images of Bran Castle and Dracula, most of them when it comes to Dracula, factually incorrect. 

Some are very impressive, and some, like this photo of Vlad Tepes, might not be entirely correct.

The prince of Wallachia, born in Transylvania, in a Transylvanian Saxon city would become the bane of the Kingdom of Hungary and the Ottoman Empire as well as the German Citizens of Brasov.

June 4, 2012

Romania, Hungary and Tranyslvania and Using Wikipedia

When you are researching two countries which have a great deal of history between them and you want to make a point, would you base your facts on a website such as Wikipedia?  

If you are a person who has easy access to libraries, would you go there instead of the web?

If you are only looking for a basic answer, then Wikipedia might be the place for you to go, but for the most part, it's not as good a source as the original works that you can find at the library.  These works contain deeper facts about the history of Transylvania.

Most of these so called facts on wikipedia are suspect.  I know, for instance that Transylvania was never a kingdom and for a while there, it referred to the principality of Transylvania as the 'kingdom of Transylvania.' This was on wikipedia, for about a week before someone changed it.

In fact, I find that most people who search for basic information will go to Wikipedia just to find out some more places that they can go to read.  However, I've debated with people, how accurate is it?

In my experience, if you were to want to look up the history of say, Romania or Hungary, depending on the day, it's rather hit and miss; the reason being that most of the information there comes from other websites.  (These are listed as a sources in Wikipedia, but those recycled web sites are not the sources that people should look for.

Primary sources like books and academic articles are far more important.) Not that I hold anything against a website.....but....

It's like a broken chain, I would be worried that the correct facts are not there, and that there might be important facts about the subject that are missing. Since Wikipedia doesn't go into as many details as some books out there do, people might miss events or historical reasons that give context to the challenges in Transylvania, and why there is bitterness between the populations of Transylvania.

As an example, the meeting in Alba Iulia, where the Saxons and Romanians voted for unification with Romania -- but each voted in favour of it for different reasons. The Romanians wanted more power, and the Saxons wanted to hold on to the power they had, reasoning that Romania would do this better than Hungary.  However, the Hungarian population voted against unification with Romania, it was settled at the Paris Peace Conferences in 1919, in which Transylvania was given to Romania.  This information is found in travel guides, as well as books.

 Almost anyone can write and edit information on wikipedia, and this might be completely incorrect. There is no one to stop them from doing so. Information is valuable, and it can point you in the right direction, but as with anything there is a proper time and a place for getting it.

June 3, 2012

In Search of the Lost Ones and Tranyslvania

In Search of the Lost Ones
In Search of the Lost Ones

In Search of the Lost Ones is available on Amazon, and is now at a lower price. 

For me, this is a big event since it showcases Transylvania and the Second World War from the view of the Saxons of Transylvania.  As this book is found in a niche market, one where it talks about the village life and how the Second World War changed it, this means a high price is a harder sell. The book is one where people can see a different dynamic to the rise, and fall of one culture of Transylvania, the German Saxons.

The other thing that excites me is that it allows people to see into a place and a time when Transylvania was very unique.  This is a market and a people where much of what is written about them is limited, and has a small following.  This means there were challenges in the art of writing and publishing it.

The market might be small, people who lived in Transylvania and were of German origin, but it is an important aspect to Romania's wonderful history.

Transylvania Shield
Saxon Shield 
At that time, there were people many different cultures living still there; some were ethnic Germans, some Hungarian, some were Jewish and some were Romanian. There were also Roma and many others- Greeks and Bulgarians. The book describes a time before many left this area for other lands. In Search of The Lost Ones is a means for me to offer another point of view on the people and place that is Transylvania.  The Saxons were a group which were unique as they had been invited to the land long before they were removed.

However, this book focuses on the Saxons of the area which is a niche market and not on the Romanian population as a whole.  In Search of the Lost Ones is my first published book and can be found on Kindle and in paperback.  It's short, and I'm proud of the work my team did with me.  Transylvania is a part of Romania, and this needs to be celebrated more by as many writers as possible.

It is a land of beauty and culture and history.  I believe more writers should write about Romania.

The main difference between other books out there and mine is that I write about Transylvania from people's recollections of the land. Also, as a side note, there is no Dracula involved.