Hollywood Dracula versus historical Dracula
“Romanian literature became aware of the concept of 'vampire' only in 18th century, thanks to West European literature,” said Professor Bogdan Bodnaryuk, expert in Balkan history of the Middle Ages of the University of Chernovtsy. Mr. Bodnaryuk believes that Bram Stoker is responsible for “making” a vampire out of Vlad Dracula.
|Gary Oldman portraying Count Dracula (left). Portrait of Vlad Tepes (Dracula) (right)
However, the personality of Vlad Dracula per se is quite remarkable, it does not need any embellishment by professional writers. Descendents of the Dracolecti family are still alive, they have never had a pale complexion or other “vampiric” conditions. The Wallachian prince Dracula was a short fellow, but he had a very strong build, a large aquiline nose, and a wild coiffure. He was reported to possess enormous physical strength. History chronicles indicate he was an exceptional rider and swordsman.
Not unlike other offspring of the vassals, Vlad was raised at the court of a Turkish sultan. In a way, the Turks held such children hostage to make sure that their parents do as they were told. Vlad II first ascended the throne of Wallachia with the help of the sultan who killed Vlad's father. The father was called Vlad Dracul, “dragon” in Romanian. The name is not shrouded in mystery by any means. Vlad Sr., joined the Catholic order of the Dragon hoping to get support for his fight against the Moslems. Vlad II got a nickname “the Impaler,” apparently for his favorite way of doing away with his enemies. As regards his signature, it looked very simple: “Vlad, the son of Vlad.”
All rulers of the 15th century were cruel and ruthless men. However, they tried not to flaunt their malfeasances too much. On the contrary, Vlad II used sophisticated executions as an “educational means” for his subjects, a tool for putting psychological pressure on his enemies. Vlad's penchant for maiming and killing people might as well be part of his twisted sense of humor. He undoubtedly learned the first lessons of cruelty during his younger years at the sultan's court. The Turks taught him how to drive a pale into a victim's body without causing maximum damage to the internal organs in order to prolong the suffering of a victim. Vlad II proved to be a quick learner who later polished up his skills.
There is a story about Dracula and the city poor. One day he asked the poor: “Do you really want to get rid of hunger and cold?” No doubt about it, the poor were keen to get food and shelter. They were taken to a castle with tables laden with sumptuous food and wine. Once the dinner started, Dracula ordered to bolt the doors from the outside and set the castle on fire. According to another version of the story, the poor were foreign spies in disguise. Vlad II always had lots of enemies, both within his principality and abroad. Wallachia was under the Greek Orthodox Church. Despite being sandwiched between a mighty Ottoman Empire and a Catholic Hungary, the small principality remained quite independent.
Vlad II was getting ready to take on the Turks from day one of his rule. The right moment finally came. Dracula stopped paying taxes imposed by the Turks. Then he pillaged and raided the northern areas of the Ottoman Empire. Sultan Murad II did not take him a serious threat at the beginning. The sultan sent a few thousand of his troops to Wallachia. The commanders had orders to capture and behead Dracula. His head was to have delivered to Istanbul. All the Turks were imprisoned and eventually impaled. Vlad II made good arrangements prior to the second invasion of the Turks. His mobile units surprised the enemy in the dead of night while laying ambushes at the river crossings and so on.
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Story source english.pravda.ru.