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.



            In 1431, the King Sigismund summoned a number of vassals and princes to Nuremburg in order to bring them into the Order of the Dragon. He thought of these princes and vassals as useful in either political or military alliances. One of the ones who was summoned was Vlad, Vlad the Impaler’s father. After Vlad pledged into the Order of the Dragon, Sigismund gave Vlad his word that he would support Vlad’s ambitions to the Wallachia principality. Anyone could see that Vlad was really proud of being brought into the Order. He as minting coins with a curled dragon (symbol of the Order) on the back of them. He even took on the name Vlad Dracul, meaning Vlad the Dragon. I know most people know it as meaning Vlad the Devil, but it actually does mean Dragon and not Devil. The idea that it means Devil or is connected to the devil is because of iconology during the Middle Ages. 

Images from Christianity have portrayed the Dragon as the Beast of Revelation. In other words they thought of Satan/the Devil as a Dragon when in a beast form. The Dragon is always slain by the good guys, mostly portrayed as Christians. When Vlad took on the name Dracul and incorporated dragons into his family coat of arms. Vlad the Impaler was proud of his father for joining the Order of the Dragon so he took on the name Dracula. These names ‘Dracul’ and ‘Dracula’ were originally used as names of honour. They were always used as names of honour by those who looked up to them. It was the enemies of Vlad and Vlad the Impaler who turned them into insults and spread the word that Dracul meant Devil. It was this meaning that made it into the An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia written by William Wilkinson. That means that it is the meaning that made it into the history books and that everyone knows now.

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