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Dracula

Vampires - The Undead

 
 
 

Whitby - Dracula Bats

Dracula

Whitby - Dracula Bats

 

The story of  Dracula  is one of the best selling books of all time throughout the world. The author,  Bram Stoker  writing Dracula a story of the undead is perhaps the best known tale of horror of  horrors that has ever been published. Bram Stoker whilst staying in Whitby, observed  and witnessed the sinking of the "Dimitri", a Russian schooner that sank just outside the harbour of Whitby.
Drawing from this tragic experience and combining that with the misty nights, narrow streets, spooky atmosphere of Whitby, he used Whitby locations, such as Tate Hill Sands, the 199 steps, Whitby church, all still exist in name today. He also used local peoples names as characters for his notes and when he completed his book it was published in 1897. The novel of sexual repression and Gothic horror, remains unsurpassed in its ability to shock.
You may never read this book of Dracula. You may never have seen one of the many films produced through the ages, but you will surely have heard of 
" Count Dracula " of the undead and his blood suckling powers over the living.

The Real Story of Dracula

Life certainly seems stranger than fiction as the real story of Dracula makes Bram Stoker's vampire seem quite tame. Dracula has been known by many names, such as: Vlad Tepes and Vlad the Impaler. Admired by many in Romania as a hero; feared by his enemies as a ruthless butcher. The truth is far more bizarre than anything Bela Lugosi, Gary Oldman, Francis Ford Coppola or even Hollywood could have imagined. Here is the real story of Dracula and the turbulent area of Eastern Europe that was his home.

Historical background

Dracula's grandfather, Prince Mircea, reigned over Wallachia from 1386-1418. Wallachia, together with Transylvania, form the area now covered by Romania. This area was threatened by invasion from the Ottoman Turks and Prince Mircea fought to keep the country's independence from the Turks. Unfortunately, this meant that he had to pay 'tribute' to them: a kind of bribe to keep the Turks off Wallachian soil.
At this time, princes were elected by wealthy landowners the Boyars and this inevitably led to quarrels and disagreements. Eventually, two groups opposed to each other emerged: Mircea's supporters and the Danesti clan.
Mircea's son, Dracula's father, Vlad, was born in 1390 and spent his youth growing up in the court of King Sigismund of Hungary. The King later became the Holy Roman Emperor. Here, Vlad became a member of the Order of the Dragon, an elite group sworn to fight the Ottomans and uphold the Catholic faith but with a secret subtext to strengthen the House of Luxemburg's political supremacy in Europe. Vlad became known as Dracul or Dragon, Dracula means son of the dragon. Dracul also means devil but it seems unlikely that contemporaries thought of Vlad in this way. Eventually, Vlad became the Governor of Transylvania, living in Sighisoara where Dracula was eventually born. Vlad's ambitions, however, were not satisfied and he killed Prince Alexandru I and became Prince Vlad II. Like his father, Vlad had to pay tribute to the Turks who were the enemies of Hungary. As Vlad was also a vassal of Hungary, this caused problems, especially when the Turks invaded Transylvania in 1442. Vlad was desperate to stay neutral but this angered Hungary and they drove him out of Wallachia

Meanwhile, a Hungarian General, named Janos Hunyadi, made a Danesti, Basarab II, prince. All changed in 1443 when Vlad, with the Sultan's assistance, regained the throne.
In 1444, Vlad, together with his two youngest sons, travelled to Turkey at the request of the Sultan. However, the invitation was simply a pretext to hold them all hostage. Eventually, Vlad was released, but the sons, Dracula and Radu, known as Radu the Handsome, remained. The Turks held many hostages, mainly to keep their rivals in check, but also to influence young minds and make them more amenable to the Ottoman Empire. Although the sons were treated fairly well, they received an excellent education, Dracula must have felt abandoned by his father and he was prone to fits of temper. Radu, on the other hand, seems to have developed a fondness for the Turks and remained with the Sultan.

When Hungary declared war on Turkey in 1444, Vlad sent his oldest son, Mircea, to fight rather than go himself and anger the Sultan. At the Battle of Varna, the Christians were beaten and Vlad and Mircea blamed Hunyadi for the defeat. Hunyadi may have been behind the deaths of Vlad and Mircea in 1447, although this has not been proven. Mircea's death was particularly horrible: buried alive by the Boyars of Tirgoviste.

A Danesti, Vladislav II was placed on the throne and the Turks, not wanting a Hungarian puppet on the throne, freed Dracula and gave him an army, but Radu remained in Turkey, a loyal subject of the Sultan. Dracula seized the throne but only held it for two months before being forced into exile in Moldavia. Vladislav II became prince. Three years later, the status quo changed when Vladislav II began supporting the Turks. Dracula became Hunyadi's vassal and in 1456 killed Vladislav II and gained the throne (again!).

Near the end

In 1462, Dracula attacked the Turks but was driven back by a much larger army than his. When the Sultan arrived at Tirgoviste, it was said that 20,000 Turks were found impaled outside of the city. Through the years, this has become known as the 'Forest of the Impaled'. When the Sultan's officers saw this horrific
site, they refused to carry on. The real story of Dracula shows a ruthless, sadistic man, capable of unspeakable cruelty, often in the name of entertainment. However, Radu, part of the invading force, refused to retreat and forced Dracula to retreat to Poenari. Here, Dracula escaped through a secret tunnel, but not   before his terrified wife had thrown herself off the battlements. Dracula went to Matthias Corvinus, the new King of Hungary, for assistance, but was thrown into jail. Radu became the Prince of Wallachia, although under the control of the Turks and Dracula tried to please the Hungarians by becoming a Catholic and marrying one of the King's family.

The end

Radu died in 1475 and in 1476, Dracula invaded Wallachia and, once again, became Prince. This was a brief return to power as the Turks soon attacked and killed Dracula near Bucharest in 1476. There seem to be many accounts of how he died, a Turkish assassin disguised as a servant, or perhaps killed by his own army when he disguised himself as a Turk to confuse the enemy. Whatever, the real manner of Dracula's death, his head was soon being parading on a pike around the streets of Constantinople, the Sultan wanted everybody to know that Dracula was dead.
Dracula was buried at Snagov, an island monastery.

In 1931, excavations on Snagov find the tomb of Dracula, but there is no coffin to be found. The real story of Dracula continues to fascinate the world just as much as the fictional Count. In fact, the real Dracula is perhaps a more interesting character than Bram Stokers version of Dracula.

 

Count Dracula - Vlad the Impaler - Vlad Teps

Based on the East European legends of " vampirism ", one of the undead who gains life through the sucking of human blood, "Dracula" and the tales from Vlad Tepes, are the most powerful creations of terror ever conceived. There is something about the ability to change from a bat to human form and then back again, which has terrified and yet enthralled generations of young and old alike. It was this ability to frighten and yet enthral people, which has allowed the successful transformation of the novel to the screen, from the 1927 silent version of the film " Nosferatu " to the Bela Lugosi ( Bram Stoker worked as a stage hand for Bela Lugosi) film in 1931 and finally to the latest film by Francis Ford Coppola in 1992.

 

 

A group of Wallachian noblemen, bringing with them a princely sceptre, made most people living in Nurberg, the city of imperial diets, defy the cold weather and take part, on 8th February 1431, in an important historic event. Emperor Sigismund of Luxemburg, conceded the ruler-ship of Wallachia to Vlad, who had been living in the court for eight years. Emperor Sigismund gave a necklace to Vlad Tepes and a golden medallion with a dragon engraved on it, the badge of the knights of the Order, bearing the name of the mystical animal.


Waiting for his coronation, Vlad Tepes with his family went to Sighisoara in Transylvania, where he set up a mint using the engraving of the medallion, a dragon, to emboss his coins. The Romanians, whose language was Latin, nicknamed Vlad, "Dracula", (from the Latin Draco-Onis, meaning Devil/Dragon). This nickname was eventually used as Vlad`s descendants surname. His second son, Vlad, was taken hostage by the Turks and then went to live with his uncle Iancu de Hunedoara, a Romanian nobleman whose daughter married Vlad and he became prince of Wallachia in August 1456.


Dracula
 

    
Dracula Coin





 

Known as one of the most dreaded enemies of the Ottoman Empire, Vlad Dracula started organising the states army, the laws applying to the death penalty. The law on the death penalty became one of impaling. All those considered as enemies would fall to this law, highwaymen, robbers, beggars, priests that betrayed the state, treacherous noblemen, usurper Saxons who tried to have him replaced with either his cousin Dan cel Tanar, meaning Dan the Young, or by his natural brother, Vlad Calugarul, meaning Vlad the Monk.
 

The Ottoman historians called him Vlad Tepes, but he always signed with his father`s name, Vlad Dracula. This is testified in Bucharest`s first documentary mentioning of the family, dated 20th September 1459 and in the portrait of Odhsenbach Stambuch from Stuttgart. Arrested by his brother-in-law, Matei Corvin, because of a treacherous malvolent, Vlad Dracula spent more that ten years in prison at Visegrad, near Buda. Back on the throne in 1476 with the help of Stefan cel Mare, meaning Stephen the Great, prince of Moldavia of the Senate of the Republic of Venice and of the Pope Sixt 4th, Vlad resumes his fight against the Ottoman`s and towards the end of the same year, he is killed at Snagov by Laiota Basarab, who followed him to the throne of Wallachia.

Vlad the Impaler

 
 

Dracula

 

 

 

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
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