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The Real Dracula

Vlad the Impaler was the Real Dracula


Bran Castle, also known as Dracula's Castle, Bran, Romania
Mark Harris/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Vlad the Impaler did not resemble the stereotypical Dracula character we think of today. Having lived from 1431 to 1476, Vlad the Impaler was a ruler of Wallachia, a region of Romania. Vlad the Impaler was also known as Vlad III and Vlad Tepes. He was a prince known for his cruelty and propensity to impale anyone who got in his way. In Romania, the real Dracula is known as a patriotic figure who was victorious against his enemies and who fought for his country.

The Making of a Real Dracula
Raised in Targoviste, Vlad and his brother Radu were sent away as hostages. It is during this time as a captive that Vlad is thought to have formed his bloodthirsty tendencies. Vlad returned to Wallachia to be crowned at the Princely Court in Targoviste in the year 1456. Here the real Dracula sought retribution for his captivity by impaling Turks invited to dine with him on Easter Sunday.

Vlad the Impaler
Word of Vlad's merciless cruelty spread around Europe due to the use of the printing press. The real Dracula used the impaling technique on his enemies, to scare his enemies, to enforce the laws, and to eliminate complaints. It is said that he would wander among the common people in disguise and test the honesty of the merchants by tempting them with overcompensation.

While Vlad ruled from Targoviste, which was the capital of Wallachia at this time, Vlad declared war on the Turks, but reportedly frightened off their invasion by displaying a field of some 20,000 impaled captives from Turkey and Bulgaria.

The Real Dracula's Demise
The demise of the real Dracula can perhaps be attributed to his brother Radu, who wanted to form an alliance with the Turks once more. They turned on Vlad, and, it is said, sent his head to the Sultan as a gift. His body is supposedly buried in Snagov in an unmarked tomb at Snagov Monastery.

Bram Stoker's Dracula
Bram's Stoker was inspired by a heightened interest in vampirism at the end of the 19th century. He researched Romania thoroughly, as well as their folklore about vampires, and developed the character "Count Dracula." While Vlad the Impaler is referred to as the real Dracula, it is of note that Vlad the Impaler's father was called Vlad Dracul.

The Folklore of Vampirism
The folklore of vampirism is still alive in Romania today. Usually identified by a body that refuses to decay, vampires are undead corpses who haunt the living. Feasting on a victim's blood is not necessary in Romanian folklore for vampires to infect their victims--it is thought that the stare or touch of a vampire is enough to make someone else a vampire.

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  5. Dracula in Romania
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