April 30, 2013

Transylvanian Society of Dracula

Looking back through some of the websites that I have sourced before, I noticed a new link had been added. It was a link to the TSD, the Transylvanian Society of Dracula. When I first saw this link I was thinking that it was a new link talking about an old society that had existing in either the time of Vlad Tepes or just after he had died. The thing is, it wasn't.  It is a new link about a society that had formed in 1991 and is still strong in the present day.
It is a society that is dedicated to the study of both the fictional character of Count Dracula and the historical man Vlad Tepes. This is a society that people can join and find other people who share their love of Dracula, both the history and the myth. It is a non-profit organization that has chapters throughout Romania and Europe, and there are events held annually in Romania by the TSD. There is even a Canadian chapter. Unfortunately, there is no chapter in the US, but Americans can join through the Canadian chapter. Even some of BramStoker’s relatives are a part of the society.
Once a person becomes a member, they receive a few things. They get a quarterly newsletter, a free copy of the annual scholarly publication (Journal of Dracula Studies), access to a membership directory, the occasional in-house publication, access to various resource materials of the TSD (upon request only), and updated information on Dracula conferences and travel tours. Of course the main thing that people receive is the feeling of belonging to a group of like minded people. The link will be at the bottom of the page. The head office of the Society is located in Bucharest, Romania, and there is also the Company of Mysterious Journeys. This is a travel agency that is run by members of the TSD. They have tours of Transylvania and Romania available. The link provided will also have the methods of how to become a member of the TSD. There does appear to be an annual fee, which is understandable due to the newsletter and annual scholarly publication that members will receive.

Having learned about this new society it makes me think of some things. For example are some of the directors and producers of Dracula movies part of the TSD? Dracula is slowly coming back to popularity. They are even making a new television series for Dracula within the year of 2013-- hopefully this will help Transylvania and its history. Are any of the people involved in the making and production of this show member of the TSD? Are any of the people involved in previous Dracula shows and movies members of the TSD? It is something to consider. The members of the TSD can and do come from all walks of life.
One major thing to keep in mind is that the TSD does not connect itself to either practising or aspiring vampires. They study one vampire, which would be Dracula, in a fictional sense.

April 28, 2013

Vampire (Dracula) Myths and TV

So the other night I was watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer re-runs. It just happens that I watched the episode where Dracula made an appearance. I find it interesting that, in the majority of the show's episodes, the vampire myths have pretty much been ignored, but once Dracula is brought in, the writers suddenly remembered all of the myths to go along with vampires.
                One of the things they remembered is the method of transportation for vampires. Dracula is shown to be using the method of travelling in his coffin full of dirt. The other two major vampire characters in Buffy, Angel and Spike, never use this method of travel. They prefer to drive everywhere. They might walk to some places, but they both have cars and both can drive.

                Another thing that comes to mind is that neither Angel nor Spike use any form of charming. They only use normal seduction techniques to get women to do what they want. Dracula, on the other hand, still uses his charm techniques to get women to do as he wants. Dracula is able to put Buffy and some other characters under his trance. Granted, Buffy is able to get out of the trance while the other characters put in the trance had to wait until Buffy defeated Dracula.
                One of the main myths that I am happy that the show kept true to is that there is only one person who is actually able to kill Dracula. That one person has to be a werewolf because they are Dracula’s sworn enemies. With this in mind, the writers had Buffy defeat Dracula in battle, but not defeat him permanent. They make a point of showing that Dracula was never truly defeated by Buffy.
                Another thing that comes up is that Dracula always has to have a castle. Is this supposed to be a reference of how Dracula is based on Vlad the Impaler, who was Prince of Wallachia — and not of Transylvania? I think that it is more than that, though. The majority of the vampire movies I have seen always have the vampire in a castle of some kind. Once again, there is a discrepancy with Buffy’s vampires, mainly Angel and Spike. Well actually, mainly just Spike. He lived in an underground hole under a mausoleum. Angel has an apartment. Once Angel got his own show, though, he got a hotel that resembled a castle.
 I understand that the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the show Angel for that matter, want to show that they are modern shows, that they are not stuck in the past with what they may consider outdated myths when it comes to vampires. I can completely understand this thought process, but I find it incongruous that when they bring in an old vampire, aka Dracula, they decide to bring back those myths; kind of dust them off and pretend as if nothing is different from what they have been doing. This confused me — just because the vampire is newer doesn't mean that the myths can be dismissed.

April 20, 2013

Vlad Tepes, Transylvania and the British Royal Family: Ambitious Family

You know how some families have the same traits; That these traits just seem to infect a lot of members of a family all the way down the line? They slowly become what we refer to as family traits. Well, I believe that the Tepes family have the family trait of being ambitious. By the Tepes family, I am referring to all those related to Vlad the Impaler. His father had ambitions of becoming the Prince of Wallachia. He even made his way into the Order of the Dragon to help make that ambition a reality. Vlad the Impaler had the ambition of keeping the throne of Wallachia within his family. He may have lost it repeatedly, but he also recovered it repeatedly. But, I have already posted about both of these men. Now it is time to talk about the women of the family. I have already talked about Countess Elizabeth Bathory, The Blood Countess. This time I want to talk about Mary of Teck, the future Queen Mary of the United Kingdom. 
The Princess Royal- Mary of Teck's daughter

Mary of Teck is thought to be descended from either Vlad the Impaler himself or his brother Radu. She was born on May 26, 1867. She was from an upper-class British family. She was a distant member of the British Royal family through her mother. Since she was a distant relative, though, they were not that well off. Actually, during the time between 1883-1885, Mary of Teck’s family fell into a lot of debt and had to live on the continent with relatives. During this period, Mary helped out by serving as her mother’s unofficial secretary. She was only 15 when she started doing this. 

Mary of Teck was not unlike the other Tepes family members of the past. She was an ambitious girl who had her sights set high — the British Royal family to be specific. At the age of 24, she was engaged to Albert Victor, Prince of Wales. This match was encouraged by Queen Victoria, who was fond of Mary. Now unfortunately, Albert fell to the influenza epidemic of 1891-1892 a few weeks before he and Mary were to marry, and he died. It was during her period of mourning Albert that Mary became close to his brother Prince George. In 1893, that George proposed to Mary, and they were married that year in July. Something to consider is that the proper mourning period is one year, so, in other words, Mary waited just the appropriate amount of time of mourning before moving on. Her ambitions never failed. She did become Queen of Great Britain. 

Something to take from this is that Mary of Teck is the grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II, the current reigning Queen of the United Kingdom. It was actually just ten weeks before Elizabeth’s coronation that Mary passed (in 1952). It is said that Mary thought of duty above all else and was dedicated to her role as Queen of Great Britain. There is a story going around where Prince Charles is supporting the genetic link between his great-grandmother and Vlad the Impaler. He is fighting for his stake in the future of Romania.  As a bit of interesting trivia — the Romanian Royal Family have no connection to Vlad — Queen Marie of Romania was a first cousin to George V.


April 19, 2013

Did You Know? Three Links Between The British And Romanian Royal Families

Transylvania has links to many people; some of them are famous, some of them are not.  One of the most famous woman in the world, Queen Elizabeth II has links to Transylvania, in the form of some unlikely people.

Some of her grandfather's paternal cousins reigned as Kings or as a Consorts in Romania.  His Majesty, King George V, had a first cousin whose name was Marie.  She gained international fame as Queen Marie of Romania.  During her lifetime, her eldest son and her second eldest grandson became: King Carol II and King Micheal of Romania respectively. Another Romanian- British link was King Carol II's wife, Queen Mother Helen, a former princess of Greece, whose mother was Queen of Greece.  Helen's grandmother was Empress Victoria of Germany, the Princess Royal of Great Britain, the eldest child of Queen Victoria.

Another unlikely link is through the person of Queen Mary of Great Britain, the wife of George the V, and the grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II.  This claim comes from her son that he is related to Vlad Tepes through his half-brother or his sons.  

This also shows how inter-related the royal families of Europe are. (The former monarchs of Greece, Romania and Yugoslavia are also related to the British Royal Family through either Queen Marie or Queen Sofie of Greece, and Marie would be called the Mother-in-law of the Balkans because of this.)

Her daughters, would marry a King of Greece, and a King of Yugoslavia.  Her other daughter, would marry an Austrian archduke.  The daughters would have as equally interesting lives, however the links between them and Britain is less.

A third link between Transylvania and the British Royal family is property, and that has helped tourism in Transylvania as well.  Some members of the family have homes in Transylvania, and Prince Charles is passionate about the area, as he feels that it is environmentally sensitive.  As members of his extended family are former monarchs of Romania, there is also a Romanian and British link there.  

There is also a link to the Russian Imperial Family in the person of King Michael of Romania, whose great-grandmother was the daughter of Alexander II, and the mother of Queen Marie of Romania.  Queen Marie lived within the walls of Bran Castle after the end of World War I, along with some of her surviving children.

Bran Castle in turn is owned by the children and grandchildren of Marie's youngest daughter, Princess Illena.

April 11, 2013

Where Would You Go When Travelling To Transylvania, Romania?

I am not sure about the rest of you, but now that spring has arrived, it’s time to start planning summer vacations. So, who wants to make their travel destination Transylvania, Romania? I would love to do this. There is so much to see and experience. Now, one thing to keep in mind is that I am a history lover. This means that if a location has a historical significance, I want to see it. 

            I guess the first place that comes to mind when thinking about travel to Transylvania would be Bran Castle. I love everything historical, and what is more historical than a castle that once housed a prince and a Queen? Seriously, who among you would be able to pass up a trip to see Bran Castle? This is the place that inspired Bram Stoker’s imagery for Dracula’s castle in his novel Dracula. It was also the home of Vlad the Impaler. Talk about your significance! Bran Castle has significance in both history, in Hungary and Romania, and literature. It would be cool to see where the man who inspired Bram Stoker’s character of Dracula actually lived, being able to walk down the same halls that Vlad the Impaler walked down while he was living there. 

April 4, 2013

Who Made Transylvania Famous?

Transylvania is a famous place, tourist flock there and keep money in the country.  Located in Romania, it has old ruins of castles, many citadels, huge churches, and of course, Bran Castle.  There are also many famous people who lived in Transylvania.  Some of them are famous for being born royal, and others are simply famous for their religion or for their politics. These are people who helped to make Transylvania famous in the eyes of the world.

Stephan Roth was a Lutheran pastor, and an intellectual, and he was killed by the Hungarians who controlled Transylvania in 1849, after the many uprisings in Europe during 1848-- the great year of rebellion in many countries. He was famous in his own right within the Transylvanian Saxon community, a large German community who lived in Transylvania.  Had he lived longer, he might have made Transylvania famous across Europe.

Bram Stoker made his name as a writer.  He was a Irish writer whose most famous novel, Dracula, is known as one of the novels that made much of Transylvania famous.  However, Stoker didn't seem to worry much that Bran Castle was identified as Dracula's Castle.  Good or bad, this novel has lead to more tourism and money for both Transylvania and Romania.  In one of the areas which Stoker wrote about, there is now a Dracula's Hotel that people can visit.

One of the more famous people of the 20th Century, was Queen Marie of Romania, and she lived in the walls of Bran Castle.  She was famous as a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, and as the first cousin of Russian Tsar Nicholas II and King George V of England and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.  When she married Crown Prince Ferdinand of Romania, Transylvania was a part of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary.  By the end of the First World War, Queen Marie was sent to the Paris Peace Conferences and Romania gained the territory of Transylvania for her country.  She later wrote many books on Romania.  Because of her association with Bran Castle, many tourists who are interested in royalty, and also Dracula, make their way there each year.  Unlike Elizabeth Bathory, Queen Marie left a positive mark on Transylvania.