Sunday, October 29, 2006

The True Story of Dracula: Vlad the Impaler

The history of Vlad Dracula is surrounded by myth and legend It's difficult sorting out the facts from the legends, the truth is that nobody is too sure what is what. We do know that he was the character that was the inspiration for Bram Stokers Novel "Dracula" being the very famous Count Dracula. The book then brought about the very vampires that are well known to this day and made Vlad the Impaler a famous character from history.

Vlad the Impaler -Tepes (pronounced tzse-pesh) was born in the town of Sighisoara in Transylvania (now known as northern Romania) in 1431 and later ruled the area of Southern Romania known as Wallachia. His father was Vlad Dracul who was a knight in the Order of the Dragon which was a union of central and Eastern European rulers who were a tad worried about the rising Ottoman empire.

The Order of the Dragon's coat of arms was a dragon (the Ottomans) and a cross (Christianity). Vlad Dracul bore this coat of arms on everything, flags, coins, and his seal. It attracted the nickname of "Dracul" probably coming from the story of the evil dragon in St. George and the Dragon, Dracul meaning Devil in Romanian.

The second son was soon born to Vlad Dracul - that being Vlad II - therefore the name developed an "a" representing the son of Dracul - "DRACULA", the son of the Devil.

The word "tepes" in Romanian means "impaler" and Vlad was so named because of his cruel and gruesome habit of impaling humans and leaving them to rot in the sun as a means of punishing his enemies.

In fact, Vlad was called Tepes (the Impaler) only after his death in 1476. Impalement was considered a particularly gruesome form of execution, the victim was stuck on a sharp stake usually the width of a big burly man's arm. Vlad was said to especially enjoy mass executions, where several victims were impaled at once, and their stakes hoisted upright. As they hung suspended above the ground, the weight of their bodies would slowly drag them downwards, causing the sharpened end of the stake to pierce their internal organs causing a slow painful death. In order to better enjoy these mass spectacles, Vlad routinely ordered a banquet table set up in front of his victims, and would enjoy a leisurely supper amid the pitiful sights and sounds of the dying.

It is estimated that Vlad killed some 20,000 men, women and children - the amount of people he killed varies from anywhere between 20,000 to 500,000. He showed no mercy and often tortured his enemies before killing them.

At the same time that Vlad became notorious for his sadism, he was also respected by his subjects because of his fierce campaigns against the Turks. He was a respected as a warrior and a stern ruler who tolerated no crime against his people, and during his reign erected several monasteries. He was a hero that was both worshiped and feared by his people.

But maybe there was a bit more to Vlad's murderous bloodthirsty habits than we first thought. In 1985 an Idaho physician Dr. Thomas McDevitt suggested that he may have suffered from a bizarre allergic reaction to blood. He claimed that in some allergic reactions to a given substance, sufferers also developed an addiction to that same substance, and if deprived of it they could react in a highly bizarre and deranged manner. Could Vlad of just been throwing a tantrum every time he craved blood? Portraits of the price depict him with dark circles beneath his eyes, puffy cheeks and a sallow pallid complexion - classic characteristics of some types of allergy victim.

There are various descriptions of the death of Dracula. The most popular being that he was killed in battle against Turks near Bucharest in December 1476. It was also said that he was murdered by disloyal Wallachian boyars just as he was about to overcome the Turks and send them packing. Other stories describe the Impaler falling in defeat, surrounded by rotting bodies of his loyal Moldavian troops. There is another account of Vlad accidently being struck down at the moment of victory by one of his own men.

Whatever happened to Vlad's body? Well that's surrounded by plenty of legends as well, none can be confirmed:

The general thought amongst Vlad historians and experts is that the body of Vlad the Impaler was entombed near the alter in a Snagov Monastery located on an Island in the middle of a lake accessible only by boat. It is well documented that his head was taken and put on display in Constantinople for all to see that the reign of this terrible man was truly over.


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