Who was the real Count Dracula?

When people talk about Dracula, the first thing that comes to mind is a tall thin evil face, with skin paler than snow and the sharpest of teeth that seem to be dripping blood. Perhaps, in your mind’s eye, you can see him wearing a tuxedo or suit with a long black flowing cape. And that sinister laugh. It’s the stuff of nightmares. But who is the real Dracula? How much of what we have heard through reading and movies is true and what is fiction. Read on below to learn about the real Count Dracula. 

Who was the real Count Dracula?

The origin of the name 

Count Dracula, the vampire we have all come to fear, is a fictional character from Irish-born author Bram Stoker’s book. He is described as a tall thin aristocratic man, with sharp features, even sharper teeth, and a lust for the blood of the living. We all know that vampires are simply mythical creatures, but Brahm Stoker actually based his character on Vlad Tepes (pronounced te’-pish), a prince from the dark and scary forests of Eastern Europe in the mid 15th century. This was no ordinary prince. He was a cruel and bloodthirsty ruler. In fact, his name Tepes means ‘the impaler’, a name he acquired due to him taking great delight in impaling people.  And he was also known to some people as ‘Dracula’. The word ‘Dracula’ means ‘son of the dragon’ and Vlad’s father was known as the dragon in his time. 

Fact or misrepresentation

Although Vlad Tepes was indeed a cruel and ruthless ruler, with stories of his fondness of impaling and rumors of him even drinking the blood of one of his victims being widely spread, the actual extent of his cruelty has been largely misrepresented, and Stoker’s stories have only further added to these misrepresentations. Certainly, he was no ‘vampire’ and although it is unclear how he died, he was definitely not immortal. 

Who was the real Count Dracula?

Despite all these misrepresentations, there is no doubt that his reign was not all sunshine and roses. He was a cruel and bloodthirsty tyrant. During his reign, tens of thousands of people were attacked, tortured, or died at his command. This is not in dispute. The misrepresentation emerges when it comes to Vlad’s motives for committing these atrocities. Vlad was the prince of Wallachia, a small remote Romanian region. His job as prince at that time was to defend the region’s belief system against the nearby Turks. In doing so, he amassed a large number of enemies who felt the best way to oppose him was to make his deeds public through publications, stories, and poems. In fact, without his enemies, his story may have been lost in time. 

Who was the real Dracula

Stoker’s fictionalization of Dracula led researchers to try and find out, “who was the real Dracula?”. Being the prince of Wallachia, Vlad made clear his desire for a unified Romania that was free from any outside influences, especially those of Hungary and the Turks. His methods were cruel and harsh. One story that was found tells of how, in April 1465, Vlad held a large gathering for the regional noblemen. When they arrived, he immediately ordered that the weak and elderly noblemen be terminated and the remaining members were forced to become slaves and to restore a dilapidated castle nearly 60 miles away. Many of these noblemen passed away from exhaustion and torture and those who managed to survive and complete the restoration where impaled alive outside the castle on spikes as warnings to those who dared cross him. 

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