2009
08.24

The Germans wrote about Dracula first, stories to instill fear, mainly, because of how many Saxon pagans Vlad had impaled in his kingdom of Wallachia. Many of the stories, if not all, are based entirely on hearsay. One of the first manuscripts detailing his cruelty circulated in the late 15th century, most likely while Dracula was still on the throne. The most well-known was a poem entitled “Von ainem wutrich der heis Trakle waida von der Walachei” or “Story of a Bloodthirsty Madman Called Dracula of Wallachia.” The Russians also produced similar literary manuscripts about Dracula, one titled “Skazanie o Drakule voevode” or “Tale about Voivode Dracula.” These stories are also second-hand accounts, largely fictional or exaggerations of Dracula’s reign.

Despite the magnanimous man that Prince Dracula was, in the annals of history is where the most literature on him can be found. Fewer books are written about the real man, than about the vampire character that Vlad III and Elizabeth Bathory inspired. Although, the recent novel, The Historian, also contains Vlad Tepes as a main character, however, he is also a vampire in this setting as well.

Bram Stoker, an Irish author, wrote Dracula in 1897, his primary antagonist, Count Dracula. Although the historical Vlad III, Dracula was partly inspirational, it is not a widely known or accepted fact, that the actor and friend of Stoker, Sir Henry Irving was the primary inspiration for the character Count Dracula, for his dramatic presence, aristocratic mannerism, and his personal preference for playing the role of the villain. Recent research suggests however, that the vampire’s nature was attributed more to the actions and events surrounding Elizabeth Bathory. Count Dracula, in the story, keeps Johnathan Harker hostage in his castle in the Carpathian Mountains, where he arrived to discuss real estate in London with the Count. Johnathan barely escapes the castle with his life. Meanwhile, Dracula has gone to London to take up residence in his newly purchased home. The count begins to seduce Mina, Johnathan’s fiance, and kills her best friend Lucy, thereby transforming her into a vampire. Van Helsing, an unconventional scientist arrives, and puts an end to Lucy’s undead terrorising, but Dracula has bewitched Mina. Van Helsing uses Mina’s bond with Dracula to track him down, eventually kill him, and save the day.

Interesting aside; in the novel, the story begins with Dracula’s wife having flung herself from the window into the tributary below because she’d heard that Dracula had been killed. This actually happened, but not for the same reasons. According to local history, an arrow was shot through the window, alerting Dracula’s wife that his half brother’s army was approaching, to take over the castle. His wife dropped out of the window, and according to legend, she remarked first that she “would rather have her body rot and be eaten by the fish of the Argeş than be led into captivity by the Turks.” The tributary is now called The Lady’s River, or “Râul Doamnei.”

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