We all like stories with a good script especially when it comes to legends and myths.
Romania comprises a wide spectrum of stories, fables and fairy tales. The most well-known legend, internationally, is the one of the imaginary character, Dracula.
Any stranger you ask knows how to associate Transylvania with a bloodthirsty vampire who turns into a bat at night. But this character is not real. Real is the story of Vlad Țepeș (a.k.a Vlad The Impaler) and his family, which provides the seeds of truth for the myth of Dracula that we all know today.
To unravel this story let’s get to know first the real historical events and then we will see where it interweaves with fiction to create an exceptional urban legend.
First of all, the name of Dracula appears as a concept somewhere in the Romanian Country (a.k.a. Țara Românească) in the 1500s, the consecrated Irish novel writer Bram Stoker appears in 1887, and the action takes place in 19th century in England and Transylvania.
More specifically, the name of Dracula has deeper roots than Vlad Țepeș.
Vlad’s father was nicknamed Vlad Dracul because of the order he belonged to, namely the Order of the Dragon. This order was a Christian and military society at the same time, which aimed to Christianize the world and defend Christianity in the face of Turks and Ottoman influences.
We can associate the Order of the Dragon with the Order of the Teutonic Knights, a probably more popular order.
In turn, the son Vlad will become a member of this order in 1431.
The name of “Țepeș” (Impaler) brought to Vlad are in fact his deeds during the harsh reign in the Romanian Country. His habit of doing justice was a most unusual one, namely to trap all enemies into huge wooden spikes. Whether they were corrupt locals, unjust traders or unfair rulers or even ruthless Turks, Vlad did not forgive any wrongdoers.
Vlad The Impaler remained in history with the image of a draconian ruler, with an extraordinary passion for justice, sometimes exaggerated, for which he was ready to shed much blood.
In Stoker’s universe, Dracula is presented as a totally different character. Dracula was a tale, at the same time a vampire, who had learned the mysteries of black magic at an academy somewhere near Sibiu. He was widely recognized and appreciated among his own people because he excelled in everything he did.
The vampire is described as being related to the image of a castle whose specifications perfectly suites those of Bran Castle.
The Irish author wrote this fiction between 1887 and 1911.
His inspiration came from somewhere in the British University and Academy, where he had most likely read “The History of Moldova and the Romanian Country”, adding ideas from engravings discovered during that period. In all these writings, Bram, creates a blood thirsty ruler, a tyrant and an oppressor.
However, their names have a striking resemblance as Vlad The Impaler was also called Drăculea. Yes. It is not misspelling.
So, can we say that Vlad The Impaler and Dracula are the same thing? Not nearly. Vlad The Impaler is a character as real as possible in history, dated and placed as ruler of the Romanian Country, while Dracula is a purely fictional character inspired by Romanian folklore.
If you are a person passionate about myths or legends, or just want to get to the places that gave this myth a shape, we invite you to truly discover the Transylvanian Fairytale and The Land of Dracula with us!