Dracula – as it is perceived today – is the result of the interference of some real historical facts, entered in the legend, related to the reign of Vlad Tepes – Dracula, of the records of some chroniclers of the time, with the intention to put the great voivode in an unfavorable light, amplified in the following centuries by the association with the character of the fiction novel “Dracula”, published in England in 1897, having as author the Irish writer Bram Stoker.
The truth about the ruler of Wallachia Vlad Tepes (1456-1462; 1476) is known from numerous works belonging to Romanian and foreign historians. Convinced that only a strong reign in the interior could ensure order in the country and successfully organize its defense against external dangers, Vlad Tepes resorted to an authoritarian rule, imposing on his subjects honor and diligence as virtues; dishonesty (thief) laziness and cunning were severely punished by firing on the teapax, a cruel punishment, but which can be understood only in relation to the age in which he lived, an age of great cruelty, which knew other punishments, as well harsh, such as burning on the fire, hanging, etc.
As a result of his drastic measures, Vlad Tepes managed to establish order in the country: “stranger to mercy and mercy – says the historian ADXenopol – he put his terrible nature in the service of his country and after a cleansing of inner evils, he put face of the humiliation in which the country had fallen ”.
But his deeds attracted the hatred of many of his contemporaries. They defamed him and accused him of settling with the Turks contrary to the country’s interests; was imprisoned by King Matthew Corvinus and later his face as a cruel man, but who put “his terrible nature in the service of his country”, was associated with the vampire Dracula, the main character in the famous fiction novel “Dracula” of the writer Irishman Bram Stoker appeared in London in 1897 and was considered by Oscar Wilde “perhaps the most beautiful novel of all time”.
The connection between the character in Bram Stoker’s novel and the ruler Vlad Tepes-Dracula is suggested by the author himself, who notes: ” right from the border with Turkey ”6. Bram Stoker believes that he was not an ordinary man “for over the centuries he has been spoken of as the most skilful, the most cunning but also the bravest of the sons of the country beyond the forest, his keen spirit and his will. of iron they entered with him in the tomb and fight even now ”. Here the author makes the connection with the undead belief, whose existence, imagined by popular beliefs, does not end with the generation from which he comes: “The undead (ie undead, vampires) suffer from the curse of immortality, says Bram Stoker, I pass from -an era in another multiplying its victims, increasing the evils of the world… ”.
The characters in the novel “Dracula” are the result of the author’s fantasy, but the deeds of Count Dracula and his end are based on popular beliefs about the existence of evil forces: vampires or undead. In the beliefs of many peoples, vampires are dead people who, by virtue of a punishment or a curse during their lifetime, leave their graves at night and wander among the living people who sleep and suck their blood – their only food. The vampire is also considered the bat, an animal that lives in the cave during the day and comes out at night and sucks people’s blood. * In Central and South America vampires are a species of large bats that feed on the blood of birds and mammals caught in sleep. . In his famous work Odysseus, the ancient poet Homer, identifies the bat with the souls of the dead.
In the popular beliefs of the Carpathian-Danubian-Pontic space, the vampire’s correspondent accepts dead people who leave their graves at night and get lost among the living people they catch in their sleep and do them a lot of trouble and damage, suck their blood and take their milk. from cattle, is the undead. It can be a living undead, the one who – as the folklorist I. Aurel Candrea notes – “takes care of his affairs like other people all day, but at night as soon as he falls asleep his soul comes out and goes to meet other undead, and his body remains like dead on the bed. The souls of these undead copii kill children and suck their blood, take their hand from cows and seedlings ”. The same author says that “when one of these beings, who is believed to have been an undead, dies, a red-hot skewer or a hair burns through her heart so that her soul can no longer come out of the grave and torment people the night”.
In Romanian mythology there are also dead undead, those spirits of the dead who come from people who were former undead in life or who had something wrong with the funeral rules, lost their way to the afterlife or had nothing to pay customs. Besides the damage they do to people in life – says Sim. Fl. Marian – dead undead “eat one member of their family at a time or eat only their heart and suck their blood.”
As interpreted today, Dracula appears in the person of the voivode of Wallachia, Vlad Tepes, under whose face (depicted in a woodcut from “German Stories about Dracula the Voivode” published in Nuremberg in 1488) is represented in numerous commercials. In this position he is no longer seen as a true historical figure, but as a vampire as he is known, by Western tourists, from Bram Stoker’s novel and from the many films that have been shot in the West since 1922.
Thus, while the portrait of the Romanian ruler, which appears on the cover of the edition of German Stories, published in Bamberg, in 1491, suggests a sense of justice that he transposed into life, by means of a special cruelty, judged by the norms of the contemporary era, but typical of the era in which he lived, the image transposed on the screen shows us a Dracula with a cruel figure who no longer has to do with the spirit of justice. This image, fantastic and terrifying, is to the taste of the tourist who went in search of the sensational and who, once in Romania, associated Bran Castle (which by its appearance and location exudes an air of mystery) with the places where the imaginary Dracula haunted.
Bran Castle, one of the most valuable monuments of medieval architecture in Romania, with historical, military and economic functions, is known by tourists around the world as Dracula’s Castle.
Most tourists, after visiting Bran Castle, leave disappointed that they have not met Dracula – the vampire who sucks people’s blood, known from movies and associated with the figure of Romanian ruler Vlad Tepes – Dracula. And I don’t meet him because visitors don’t distinguish between a historical reality and a story that originates both the character in Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, in which the action is based on popular beliefs about undead and vampires and the legends about Vlad Tepes, especially those who portray him as a cruel voivode. The interference of the main character in the novel Dracula with the legends about the real ruler Vlad Tepes – Dracula, a reference figure in Romanian history, gave birth to an imaginary character known as Dracula the vampire, as the embodiment of an evil spirit, which disturbed the peace of people. he torments and transforms those who have come under his rule into these forces of evil. This character exists at the level of the imaginary and cannot be illustrated in a museum exhibition such as the one in Bran Castle.
Bran Castle was named Dracula’s Castle three decades ago by tourists, especially Americans, who came in search of Dracula from horror movies based on Bram Stoker’s novel. Tourists caught at the entrance to Transylvania a castle that in appearance resembles the castle described by the Irish author. That’s why they named it Dracula’s Castle. What connection can there be between Dracula in the imagination of the tourist who came in search of the vampire and Bran Castle? Is simple. If it is about the ruler of Wallachia, history records several campaigns undertaken by Vlad – Tepes – Dracula to punish the Saxon merchants from Brasov who did not obey the orders of the voivode regarding trade through the fairs in Wallachia. And it is logical that the passage was made through Bran, the pass closest to Brasov, which connected with Târgovistea, the residence of the Muntenian gentleman. The relations with the Castilians from Bran would not have been very cordial, as they were representatives of the fortress of Brasov, hostile to Vlad Tepes.
If Vlad Tepes ruled Bran Castle, it is difficult to answer because the written documents do not record this. But the existing documents in the archives regarding the Citadel – Bran Castle, as many as are still preserved, are predominantly administrative; it refers to the incomes and expenses from the Bran fortress domain and to a very small extent to politico-military events. However, it can be argued that in the autumn of 1462, after the army of the king of Hungary, Matei Corvin, captured him near the fortress from Dâmbovita Bridge, near Rucar, located about 25 km from Bran, Prince Vlad-Tepes was taken to the Castle Bran and imprisoned here for about two months, as recorded in the recent volume Vlad-Tepes Dracula, Mirador Publishing House, Arad, 2002, author Gheorghe Lazea Postelnicu. From here he was taken to the Visegrad Fortress.