The legendary Count Dracula in Dracula movie…Fiction or Reality?
The persona of Count Dracula, as perceived in contemporary times, is the result of associating real facts related to the reign of the Romanian prince of Wallachia Vlad Tepes – depicted by some of the historians of the time in an unfavorable light – to the main character in Bram Stoker's fiction novel "Dracula" published in England in 1897. In 1992 Stoker's novel was made into the Dracula movie which is probably the most quintessential of Dracula movies in recent memory. Unfortunately, the public perception of who truly was Vlad Dracula became even more distorted…
Count Dracula was born Vlad Tepes III at the end of 1431 in the Transylvanian city of Sighisoara. His father was the appointed military governor of Wallachia and had recently been inducted into the Holy Roman Emperor's Order of the Dragon. The dragon symbol is called "drac" in Romanian, so after he joined, he became known as Vlad Dracul. In Romania, the name ending "ulea" means "son of", so Vlad III is known as Dracula. The word "drac" also means "devil", which seems quite appropriate.
In 1444, Vlad Tepes' father allowed him and his younger brother to be taken to Adrianople as hostages by the Turkish Sultan Murad the Second. While imprisoned, the tortures he witnessed and lived through for the ensuing 4 years had quite an influence on his adult life. Vlad Tepes returned to Wallachia in 1448 to take the throne after the death of his father, Vlad Dracul. He ruled Wallachia from 1456 to 1462 from his capitol city of Tirgoviste where he built the Poenari Fortress on the Arges River. In reality, Vlad Tepes was a fearless leader, a political genius who understood that only ruling with an iron fist he can bring order in the country. Like his father he fought to preserve the Roman civilization and Chrstianity against the Otoman invasion.
Vlad Tepes was known as The Impaler: it's been said that he was responsible of the murder of 40,000 to 100,000 people by spearing them through various body orifices and leaving them to die to warn his enemies and subjugates against offending his strict moral rules. It has also been suggested that, as they were impaled, Count Dracula sat at a table and ate bread soaked in the victim's blood, no doubt giving rise to the Dracula Count vampire blood story.
Count Dracula died in battle against the Turks, December 1476 while trying to recapture his throne at Wallachia. His body was decapitated and the head was displayed by the Sultan in Constantinople.
With a history like Vlad Tepes it is no wonder that he became a fixture in literature and, later in Dracula movies. In his novel, Stoker suggests the connection between Vlad Tepes and Dracula describing the prince as the most shrewd and bravest amongst men with an agile spirit and an iron will that followed the prince even in death entering his grave and tormenting his soul. In the Dracula movie the viewers also connect with the myth of "strigoi" or vampire whose existence, based on Romanian folk mythology, is cursed to last across multiple generations victimizing more people and causing more evil in the world.
Vampires are not new to Romania. In the area, some recently dead are still dug up, hearts removed, staked to the ground with wooden stakes, burned and the resulting ash mixed with water and drunk by the vampire's relatives. This is how to kill or prevent a vampire in Romania. In books or movies, a wooden stake through the heart will suffice without the added need of burning the heart and drinking ash-water.
The public 's ever growing fascination with Count Dracula continues to be the reasons why there are so many books written and movies made around vampires. During contemporary times, especially after the Dracula movie was released, the public no longer viewed Vlad Tepes as a historical personality unfortunately, but instead his persona is associated with that of the vampire Count Dracula. In reality, prince Vlad Tepes was a man that loved his country above everything else and never hesitated to sacrifice himself for the political ideal ever present in the Romanian history: independence.