Vlad TepesWho was Vlad Dracula – the Impaler? What is a true story and what is a myth? What about Dragon’s Knights? Find the answer to these questions in the following article. Find who was Vlad Dracula, the story of his name, his real life and actions, the origins of the famous legend.
..3 May Bistritz - left Munich at 8:35 PM on 1st of May and arrived in Vienna early next morning... (Jonathan Harker’s Journal). As far as I know this is the beginning of the legend as it was written in the famous Dracula novel by Bram Stocker. In fact, everything began in 1456 when Vlad Tepes (member of the Basarab dynasty) ascended to the throne of Wallachia with the help of Iancu of Hunedoara, the governor of Transylvania.
The name of Dracula:
The came from his father, who was also named Vlad the II Basarab. In 1431 Vlad, the father, joined the Dragon’s knights order. This order was more an alliance of Central – Eastern Europe rulers and knights having the role to faith for the Christian church and against the Turkish Empire.
The founder of the Dragon’s Knights order was the Hungarian king – Sigismund of Luxemburg.
The coat of arms used by these knights represented a green dragon with a red cross on the back.
Vlad, the father, started to use this symbol in his on coat of arms, battle flags, coins, aso.
In Romanian mythology the image of the dragon is considered to be the image of evil, translated in Romanian language is dracul. So the people started to call Vlad as Vlad Dracul (dracul = devil)
His son, known and famous as Vlad Dracula or Vlad the Impaler was called Vlad Draculea (the son of Dracul) and later Vlad Dracula, as was presented in the Bram Stoker’s novell.
Vlad Dracula was born in 1431, in a Transylvanian town – Sighisoara. Nowdays is a well preserved medieval town, included in the UNESCO World heritages list.
As a young child he was sended to the Turkish Sultan Court where he learned everything about the Turkish way of living, how to fight and about the organization of the Turkish army. Amongst other things, he also learned about the punishment of impalement, which in fact was used historically and widely in these parts of Europe. In 1456 he became the ruler of Walachia, the Southern region of Romania. When he took the throne he discovered that the country`s economy and foreign policy were a disaster. As a result he started to re-organize the country. First he attended to commerce and the economy, signing agreements with the Transylvanian merchants from Sibiu and Brasov, who had a busy trade with the Romanian Country. Then he started to bring order to the country by giving a single punishment for crimes: death by impalement. In this way, in a couple of months he managed to reduce criminality and order was enforced.
Because the treaty with the Transylvanian merchants wasn’t very convenient for them, they started breaking it and selling in the Romanian Country products which were made here too. In this situation, Vlad, after many appeals to them to respect the agreement,entered Transylvania and inflicted many human and goods losses in the Transylvanian cities of Brasov and Sibiu. Because of that and his punishment by impalement, stories about his cruelty started to circulate all over Europe. As you imagine those stories passing mouth to mouth with every person adding a little bit and in this way he became a real vampire in the collective memory. Another thing which he is famous for, is the night attack in 1462, against the Ottoman Army camp. He attacked the camp with 100 soldiers dressed up in Turks uniforms which created confusion, disorder, as well as a diversion while he was trying to kill the Sultan in his sleep. Unfortunately the Sultan was in his lover`s tent at that moment. So Vlad and his army pulled back leaving the Turks to kill each other, because they didn't know anymore who is Romanian and who is Turkish, all being dressed similarly.
After this event he was captured near Bran Castle by the men of King Matyas Corvinus of Hungary, the son of Iancu of Hunedoara who helped him take the throne in 1456. He was arrested because of a false denunciation which said that he plotted with the sultan against the Hungarian king. He came back after 12 years but was killed after 3 months. He is buried, or he is supposed to be buried on the island in Snagov Lake, near Bucharest. In fact, if you ask me, he is not buried there because he is still alive!
The Dracula novel was written by Bram Stocker with some information that he had from a friend of his who travelled in Transylvania. From his friend`s stories he obtained the image of a country with a perfect landscape for a vampire story. Bram Stocker was also writing about the Hungarian countess Elizabeth Bathory who used to take baths in virgins blood to maintain her youth. So he combined the two characters, Countess Bathory and Dracula who had the perfect name for a vampire and was male, and wrote a very succesfull novel.
Places to visit in Romania related with Vlad Dracula:
Poienari Castle – the true castle built by him near Curtea de Arges.
Princely Court – Bucharest
Snagov monastery - tomb of Vlad Dracula
Sighisoara – the birthplace of Vlad
Brasov – the town where he lived for couple years
Bran Castle – probably the place where he was arrested and hold as a prisoner
Hunyad Castle (Corvin’s Castle), in Hunedoara
Related tours following Dracula’s legend (click here)