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Featured Rumors....which are true?

Vlad dracula, prince of romania
Vlad the Impaler Rumor : Prince Dracula was a real vampire.
Over the years, there has been much debate on whether the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker was based on a real vampire baddie. From the notes that he left behind, we know for certain that Stoker borrowed the name "Dracula" when he discovered a 15th century Wallachian prince called Vlad Dracula, (pictured here). Stoker was drawn to the name when he uncovered that Dracula in Romanian meant "son of a devil" or "son of a dragon." He originally planned to name his character, Count Wampyr. (Thankfully, the name was changed because Wampyr sounds like a pretty wimpy name for a vampire.)

But the real person behind the name was more horrible than any blood-sucking vampire from the Victorian imagination. Here is the slightly less scary version. You have been warned!

Hard times in Medieval Wallachia
Before we pass judgment on Vlad, we should understand the period in which he lived. In 15th century Wallachia (Romania), crowns did not pass peacefully from father to son. Along with birthright, the prince also had to be elected by a group of nobles called boyars. The problem with this system is it created a free-for-all struggle to become ruler where the guy who got the job was usually the one who had killed off all his brothers, cousins and uncles. It wasn't pretty. Add to the mix some plague, religious and civil wars and an average life expectancy of 25-30 years and you have a dark tale to tell.

The Real Prince of Darkness
Vlad Tepes (Vlad III) was born in 1431 in Romania. After a long struggle for power, Vlad became prince of Wallachia in 1456. Like his father (Vlad II) Vlad was a member of the Order of the Dragon. The Order of the Dragon was a group of knights whose main mission was to drive out the Turks and preserve Catholicism. Vlad took this job very seriously. It is estimated that he killed between 40,000 and 100,000 people and he had a bit of a thing for torture. He liked to cut off his victims' noses and send them to his enemies and he was oh-so fond of boiling and disembowling. But his favorite torture method was to impale his victims upon a stake like shish kebob. His torture methods soon earned him the nickname Vlad the Impaler. It was even rumored that Vlad drank his victims’ blood.

welcome to Wakkachia The Welcome Wagon
One of Vlad’s many talents was creative landscaping. But he didn’t use pretty flowers to welcome visitors to Wallachia. Instead, Vlad used his impaled victims as decoration. He often arranged his victims in circular patterns where the height of the spear indicated the rank of the victim. Vlad thought this artful arrangement of impaled bodies would keep invadors out. Turns out....he was right. When the conqueror, Mehmed II was greeted with the sight of Vlad’s impaled victims, he decided not to invade and ran back to Constantinople in horror.

vlad the impaler Vlad the Robin Hood
If you ask someone from Romania about Vlad, you will hear a very different story. To Romanians, Vlad saved Romania from Ottoman invasion and did what he had to do to protect his empire. In fact, Vlad is as much a hero to Romanians as George Washington is to Americans. He was even commemorated on a Romanian postage stamp in 1976.

Was he all that bad?
Rumors of Vlad’s misbehaving seem too horrible to be true. Is Vlad the Impaler's legend complete hogwash? Read The Raucous Royals to find out more >>


Dracula by Bram Stoker

Count Dracula
What's in a Name?

Stoker originally planned to call his vampire fiend, "Count Wampyr." Thankfully, he changed his mind after discovering that Dracula in Romanian meant "son of a devil" or "son of a dragon."

Visit the Reading Section to find more books on Dracula.

Bella Lugosi

Bran Stoker's Inspiration
Hollywood Follows

Stoker's book made Dracula a hollywood sensation. But did he know just how horrible the namesake of his main character was? Elizabeth Miller argues that some of Vlad's taste for blood surely would have made its way into Stoker's book if he knew the whole story. I am not totally convinced. Would Stoker really have found impaling appropriate for his Victorian audience? It seems far more appropriate to make impaling fangs into a young neck.


Dracula's Resting Place

Vlad supposedly died in the battle against the Turks in 1476 (or he may have been poisoned by his enemies.) His body was reportedly buried in an island monastery near Bucharest called Snagov, (shown above) but when his grave was dug up...his body was gone.
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