Dracula, Prince of Transylvania, a legend inspired by a real character

Dracula, hero of literature and cinema

Epistolary novel published in 1897, Dracula is the work of Irish-British writer Bram Stocker. An aristocratic, bloodthirsty vampire holed up in his castle in Transylvania, but also a creature doomed to painful immortality, Count Dracula immediately wins the hearts of both fascinated and frightened readers. The figure of Dracula as it was popularized by Bram Stocker’s novel quickly became legendary and became an inexhaustible source of inspiration for writers and filmmakers.

In 1922, Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau made the first unofficial adaptation of the book under the title Nosferatu the Vampire. Then in 1931 it was Tod Browning’s turn to stage his own version of the myth with Bela Lugosi in the title role. Two films that have become classics that have given rise to countless other adaptations, notably by Francis Ford Coppola in 1992.

Who was the real Dracula?

Count Dracula as described by Bram Stocker did not exist, but his character is largely inspired by a very real figure…and even more frightening. It is about a warrior named Vlad Tepes, or Vlad the Impaler (what a program!), who lived in Romania in the 15th century and was prince of Wallachia. His father was called Vlad II and was nicknamed the Dracul, or “dragon”. Vlad III will therefore be known as Drăculea, “the son of the dragon”.

At the time of Vlad III, Wallachia, which today corresponds to southern Romania, was the last bastion of Christians against the Ottoman invasion. Prince Vlad III maintains difficult relations with the empire and periods of war and peace follow one another. To establish his power, Vlad will take it into his head to create a new elite by appointing to key positions men of the people over whom he has all the rights.

Unlimited cruelty

His objective is then to eliminate the boyars, the Wallachian aristocrats who had killed his father. He shows unlimited cruelty towards them and mass murders multiply. But his cruelty also strikes the poorest subjects and Vlad III repeats an odious stratagem many times.

Inviting the unfortunates to a banquet, he ends up burning them alive. But his most significant feat of arms, to which he owes the nickname impaler, took place in 1460 when he impaled and then burned between 25,000 and 30,000 people. Severed heads, murdered children and old people, impaled opponents, the abuses committed by Vlad III and his soldiers are frightening.

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Where is Dracula’s Castle?

Dracula’s Castle – or Bran Castle – is located near Brasov in Transylvania and is a listed historical monument. If this splendid castle built in the 13th century attracts a crowd of curious people every year, there is in fact no historical document attesting to the presence of Vlad III.

Of course, this does not prevent the village from selling numerous products bearing the image of the most famous vampire in the world. To attract local tourists and encourage residents to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, Bran Castle even opened a vaccination center in its compound during all weekends of May 2021.

But Bran Castle is not the only one linked to Vlad’s story. At 2h45 by road, the curious can discover the Citadel of Poenari. Today in ruins, this citadel would have been erected by Vlad Tepes. It is rumored that the places are haunted…

Read also :

⋙ The secrets of a castle that would have served as a prison for “Dracula” soon to be revealed in Romania?

⋙ Romania: in search of the treasure of the Carpathians

⋙ In Romania, the famous castle of Count Dracula is transformed into a vaccination center

Dracula, Prince of Transylvania, a legend inspired by a real character