March 30, 2013

The Countess of the Blood, Elizabeth Bathory and Dracula's Relative

Now it is time for a change of pace, or more specifically change of topic- I'll still write about Dracula, but with a twist. I have been posting about Vlad Dracul and Vlad Dracula for my past few posts. It’s time for a change. This time I have read about Elizabeth Bathory. She was actually a distant cousin to Vlad Dracula. She was a countess of Transylvania. She was known as the Blood Countess, and sometimes the Countess of the Blood. Elizabeth Bathory was a very vain woman during her time. She was raised as Magyar royalty and surprisingly had an active childhood. People who were around her knew that they had to praise and be enthusiastic about it. It was at the age of 15 that Elizabeth was married off, for political ambitions of her family, to a rough soldier of aristocratic roots. 
That is when she began her fall into darkness

March 29, 2013

Dracula and The Order of the Dragon

One thing that came up in a previous post about the family of Vlad Dracula was that his father was a member of The Order of the Dragon. I did not have the chance to elaborate on The Order in the previous post, so I thought I would talk about it for this post; it plays a large part in Vlad Tepes' family. 

            The Order of the Dragon was created by the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund in 1408. It was created to be like the St. George Order from 1318. The Order was created while Sigismund was still reigning as King of Hungary. It appears that his wife Queen Barbara had some input as well because The Order was originally created as a form of protection for the royal family. Since this Order was based on a religious Order, it had a mandate for the members to defend the cross and fight against the enemies of the Church. At this point and in that area, the main enemies of the Church were the Turks. In the beginning The Order of the Dragon was comprised of 24 members, and all of them had nobility status. They even had Stefan Lazarevic of Serbia and King Alfonso of Aragon (which would become a part of Spain) and Naples.

March 23, 2013

What Is Vlad Dracula's Reputation Within Europe

Vlad has returned from Turkey to find that his father had been assassinated and his older brother was buried alive, and Vlad Dracula became the warlord of Wallachia for the first time. During this period he was commonly the Prince of Wallachia.

In 1448, Vlad Dracula kept the throne for less than a year. He spent six years plotting his way to take the throne back. In 1456 he was successful and regained the throne and ruled for six years. He had some major battles with the Turks in 1462. He ended up having to flee and escape to Transylvania. Vlad Dracula lost the throne at this time. He was captured and held prisoner by a Hungarian king, Matthias Corvinus. Carvinus held Vlad Dracula prisoner until the mid-1470s. In 1476, Vlad was able to regain this throne again. 

            Vlad Dracula’s reign was short, even when all three reigns were added together. Despite this, Vlad Dracula had a large, or rather, diverse reputation across Europe and the Ottoman Empire. 

People could not make up their minds about him though. Some thought of him as a ruthless, merciless, vindictive monster. On the other hand there were some who thought of Vlad Dracula was a hero who thought of his people above all else. It was the Germans who had the most influence on Vlad Dracula’s reputation. They were writing pamphlets on him and circulating them while his was still alive, earliest dating around 1463.  The Germans were more likely to make Vlad Dracula appear like a monster. Within these pamphlets there were also wood carvings of the likeness of Vlad Dracula and occasionally images of the atrocities that Vlad Dracula committed. 

            The Russians were more likely to see Vlad Dracula in a dual role. They mentioned his cruelty, and also mentioned his sense of justice. They talked about how Vlad Dracula wanted to restore order. The Turks were more likely to make Vlad Dracula look like the monster that the Germans were also portraying. The Romanians mostly portrayed Vlad Dracula as a heroic man. They described Vlad Dracula as a man who bravely defended his people against the Turks who attacked. 

            Something to take into account is that most, if not all, of these primary documents were loaded with bias. They would have been written by either Vlad Dracula’s victims or his people. With that in mind, they were the ones either being protected by Vlad Dracula or were being attacked by Vlad Dracula. Vlad Dracula was known to be attacking the German Saxons of Transylvania, even though they were a neutral state at the time. The Turks were the same, because they would have talked more about how amazing they were. The Turks and Vlad Dracula were always on opposite sides of the battles. Since the Romanians were the ones who were always on the same side of the battle so they always saw Vlad Dracula in a positive light. As with any person in history, there will always be conflict over the opinions of Vlad Dracula.


March 21, 2013

Vlad's Family History

Vlad the Impaler had a really interesting family. For example, Vlad’s grandfather, Mircea cel Batrin (Mircea the Old) was a medieval warlord. He was famous for his struggle against the Ottoman Empire. He wanted to prevent any permanent Turkish settlements in Wallachia. When Mircea died in 1418, he left behind multiple illegitimate children. At this time there were not really any set laws on inheritance so a feud broke out. This feud was called the Draculesti-Danesti feud. It was between Mircea’s illegitimate Vlad (Vlad the Impaler’s father) and Dan, the son of one of Mircea’s brothers. In the end, or more precisely in 1431, Vlad was stationed at Sighisoara as one of the military commanders. He was responsible for guarding the passes from Transylvania to Wallachia from enemies trying to invade. During the same year Vlad was summoned to Nuremburg by Sigismund, the Holy Roman Emperor. He was one of many that were initiated into the Order of the Dragon. This order was modelled after the St. George order. 

March 19, 2013

Where is Count Dracula's Castle?

Count Dracula, the fictional character that Bram Stoker wrote in his famous novel Dracula, had a castle, which he described as crumbling and old, and it made his protagonist Jonathan Harker very nervous about going there.  It did not have servants, and as a final touch, Stoker adds the description that the wolves were howling outside.

This gives the reader a good idea that this places is less than friendly, and that Harker should have turned back — except that there would not be a story.  While Stoker does describe the castle nicely, he does not say which castle it was.  Now, we know that he had Bran Castle in mind when he wrote the novel.  However, he never set foot on Hungarian soil, which was where the castle was located while Stoker wrote the book.

He used the backdrop of London catacombs and older more ruined castles in the British Isles as the foundation for the descriptive writing.

There is something about this castle that makes people want to know more.

March 14, 2013

Vlad the Impaler, Count Dracula

Vlad Tepes
Vlad Tepes

Everyone knows the story of Dracula — or Count Dracula. 

He is the best know vampire in the world. What they do not always know is that Dracula was just a character based on the true actions of Vlad Dracula. He was a prince in the Middle Ages, specifically he lived from 1431-1476. Vlad Dracula was born in what is now a part of Romania. He was the son of Vlad Dracul and a Moldavian princess. Dracul means “devil”, and Dracula mean “Son of the Devil”. Vlad Dracula had a real lust for blood and loved to fight. 

He was known to torture his prisoners as well. He got the name Vlad the Impaler because he impaled his prisoners with stakes of wood. He did not care who he killed with this method; he reportedly enjoyed seeing people suffer and impalement is an extremely painful way to die. He apparently had 4000 people impaled over the course of a two year period. 

Images of Dracula
Vlad Tepes, inspiration for Dracula
            Vlad the Impaler was mainly known as either Prince Vlad III of Wallachia, of the House of Basarab. As a prince, and then as a king, Vlad III had a throne to defend. Well, actually, first he had to regain the throne. In 1448, Vlad held the throne for a short time, but by 1456 he had the throne back. In 1462, the Ottoman Sultan Muhammad II took Vlad III’s throne from him by force. Vlad III was imprisoned for 12 years in Hungary, during which time he adopted the Catholic religion. Vlad III was able to get out of imprisonment and regain his throne by 1476. Unfortunately, within the same year, Vlad III was killed by an ally of the Ottomans, Laiota Basarab. 

            Bram Stoker made the name of Dracula immortal with his book “Dracula”. There was not much connection between the Vlad III and the Count Dracula character from the book. Bram Stoker used the name Dracula first because of the meaning. Vlad IV also had a lust for blood like the character; they just craved it in different ways. Where Count Dracula wished to drink the blood of his victims, Vlad III just wished to spill it. Bram Stoker also took some other inspirations from the life of Vlad Tepes. 

For example, the only way to kill Dracula was by impaling him, the same method Vlad III used to torture and kill his victims. Having been born in what would become Romania, Vlad III was familiar with the mythology of the werewolf. It would have been a myth he was raised with and taught to fear. Bram Stoker took things one step further and made a werewolf the only being who was able to kill Dracula. 

            In the end, Vlad III or Vlad Tepes was a normal man during the Middle Ages, who lived in Transylvania, according to A Concise History of Romania . He may have had a slightly higher than normal blood lust than most, though. It was this blood lust that made Vlad III stand out just enough to be noticed and remembered in history. Bram Stoker was the one who made sure that Vlad Dracula was remembered as more than a man but also as a legend.

Sources: (Note: on this website it says Vlad IV, however he was Vlad III, his half brother Vlad Calugarul was Vlad IV) Website on Dracula

Dracula the Novel by Bram Stoker

March 13, 2013

Transylvania Romania and The Romanian People

Transylvania is a part of the country of Romania, and has been since 1919. Before that time it it was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary (which was itself a part of the Empire of Austria.)   Before the late 1800s there was no country by the name of Romania, but it became a princedom in the early 1870s.  At this time, the was a unification of the two principalities, Wallachia and Moldavia. Transylvania was not a part of this formal union.

Even then, Transylvania, and other areas were of interest to the Romanian government of the time.  When Romania became a kingdom under King Carol I, it was simply another small Eastern European country, along with Greece, Bulgaria and others.  There was tension between these nations, as there was across Europe.

Something was about to happen.

March 4, 2013

Vlad Tepes, Dracula and Transylvania, Romania

There was a Vlad Tepes, and there is a Transylvania. (Where is Transylvania?  In Romania).  The problem is that readers of the novel Dracula will often comment that there was also a Count Dracula since Bram Stoker did a wonderful job of writing about Transylvania.  People forget that it is a work of fiction, but is set in a real place, and that the author based the character on a person who lived in the area.

Vlad Tepes was one of the many Princes of Wallachia, and he was born in Transylvania while his father was in exile there.  He was on the move much of the time during his adult years, either fighting for his throne or fighting his enemies.  People either loved or hated him.