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Dracula: Myth & History

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Bram Stoker's

The Irish writer Bram Stoker could easily have seen in the Royal Library in London a few of those Saxon prints from the fifteenth century, which were found in the collections of the British Museum, where Vlad Ţepeş is described as a monster, a human blood drinking vampire and someone who takes great pleasure in cruelty.

He probably had access to Johann Christian Engel’s historical writings about Moldavia and Walachia describing Vlad Ţepeş as a bloody tyrant, which probably gave him the idea to turn the Prince of Walachia into a model for his fictional character "Dracula". Some historians have claimed that Stoker had a friendly relationship with a Hungarian professor from the University of Budapest, Vambery Arminius (Hermann Vamberger), who may have provided Stoker with information about Vlad Ţepeş. Moreover, the fact that Dr. Abraham Van Helsing mentions his friend Arminius in the 1897 novel as the source of his knowledge of Vlad III named Dracula, seems to support this hypothesis.

Bram Stoker used folkloric sources, historic references and personal experiences to achieve a complex character. On the other hand, it is worth mentioning that Vlad's main political detractors - mostly Saxons - made use of the word meaning “devil” in order to overshadow the ruler's reputation. The association between the two meanings of the word dragon and the devil might explain a stronger connection between Vlad Țepeș and vampirism.
Allegedly, Bram Stoker associated this European legend with a South American animal: the common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus).

Dracula & Vlad Tepes: Myth & Reality

Over the years, many myths and legends have arisen around Dracula's name and much ink has been spillled on this matter, depicting some of the most thrilling stories. No one can actually tell which parts of the legends are true and which are make-believe. This is something you will have to discover for yourself, entering a world of mystique and emotion.

It is assumed that Vlad Țepeș, son of Vlad Dracul was born in 1431, probably at the Royal Court in Târgoviște as most of the Walachian princes, or in Sighișoara while his father was in Transylvania between 1431 and 1436. His official name is "Valdislaus I Basarab-Luxembourg" baptized in the holy font of the "Santa Maria" church.
But he used to sign as his father, "Dracula", as evidenced by the first document in Bucharest, dated September 20, 1459.
The term is derived from the Romanian Drăculea - son of Dracul, his father’s surname, received after being introduced by the Hungarian King Sigismund in the Order of the Dragon.

The name identifies him with the bloodthirsty tyrant whose favorite method of execution was the impalement. Vlad Țepeș adopted this method highly prevalent in the Western Middle Ages, from his good Moldavian cousin Stefan the Great, the latter being the first to use this terrible execution in the Romanian countries.

The first edition of the novel "Dracula"
If in 1897 Bram Stoker hadn’t written his novel “Dracula”, Vlad Țepeș certainly would have not been heard of outside the Romanian borders. Although entirely fictional, the novel is inspired by Vlad’s mythical association to a vampire count.

The first film adaptation of Stoker's novel was made in Germany in 1922, called "Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens" (Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror).

The most accurate and best known adaptation is Francis Ford Coppola’s movie "Dracula" from 1992, featuring Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves.