The fictional vampire “Count Dracula” (from Bram Stokers novel) is one of the most famous villains in history. Countless movies have been made about this character, and in recent times there has been a resurgence of fascination with vampires,from Anne Rice’s novels to the “Twilight” series. But many people would be surprised to learn that the character of “Count Dracula” was actually based on a real person—a man named “Vlad Dracul”, who earned the nickname “Vlad the Impaler” from his habit of impaling prisoners of war that his army captured.
Many people would also be surprised to learn that in Romania, there are still many people today who actually consider “Vlad the Impaler” as “a hero” and “a Romanian Patriot”, a Christian “who fought Muslim dominance and tyranny.”
So who was this man, and why did such a cult grow up around him after his death?
Well, “Vlad the Impaler” was born as “Vlad Dracula” in 1417 in an area that at the time was known as Transylvania(It is now known as Romania.) For years Transylvania had been at war with the Turks, and Dracula’s father Count Dracul (who was an important nobleman) was sent as a “representative” of a group of nobles from his home land in Transylvania to negotiate a truce with the leader of the Turks, “The Sultan.”
(He took his two sons Vlad and Radu with him.)
However, upon Dracul’s arrival, the Sultan took them all prisoner!
He then told Count Dracula’s father what his “conditions” for a deal with Translyvania were, and then let Dracula’s father go back home to negotiate,but to make sure Dracula’s father would do as he demanded ,the Sultan kept Dracula’s sons “Vlad” and “Radu” as hostages —–hostages who would supposedly be “returned to him” upon the confirmation of the deal.
Naturally as soon as Dracula’s father arrived back home, he tried to get the nobles to agree to the Sultan’s terms. At first,the nobles APPEARED to agree with those terms—-but as Dracula’s father prepared to return back to “The Sultan”, the nobles betrayed and murdered him, and buried him alive!
This left “Vlad” and his brother “Radu” as captives of “The Sultan.”who as time went by tortured Vlad and raped his younger brother Radu.
Years later, at the request of Radu (Who had now become the Sultans “pet”) Vlad was released from captivity and broken and poor,he was returned to his home town. Upon returning he found out the whole story of his Fathers betrayal and murder and who was responsible. He saw that many of his fathers murderers were still there, so Vlad began to plot his revenge against them.
At first,he pretended to be oblivious to what they had done. He befriended them, and once he was sure that “their guard was down”, he invited them all to a dinner. When they had all arrived, he had his “guards”(Who were men that he had known as a youth who were loyal to him and his father) “take them prisoner.”
He then took them outside and one by one he “impaled them on sticks” and “propped their bodies up” outside his castle as a message to anyone who was loyal to them of the fate they might encounter if they went against him.
(This was how he got the nickname “Vlad the Impaler”)
Now here’s where the story gets even weirder:
When the Pope heard what Vlad Dracula had done, he immediately sent some emissaries to meet with Dracula, and “Vlad the Impaler” became one of the popes leading mercenaries!
(This is something that most people don’t know about Dracula: He committed many of his war crimes “With the Popes blessing”.)
Years later Vlad ended up going to war with the Sultan,only now,the leader of the Sultans army was his younger brother Radu!!
In the battles that took place, Vlad’s army was routed by Radu’s and Vlad was eventually caught by “The Sultans army” and his head was cut off.
(Something Muslims do to prevent the persons soul from going to heaven)
Over time,the legend of “Vlad the Impaler” grew, and to this day, his grave has never been found.
(The one place that was rumored to be his “actual resting place” was found to have the bones of a wolf in the casket.)
It was this history that inspired Bram Stoker to write his famous novel about Dracula,which tho loosely based on “Vlad the Impaler” had very little resemblance to the man himself or his actual history.
Thus the legend of “Count Dracula The Vampire” began—–
I write this summation not to endorse what Vlad did,but to show where the legend of “Dracula the Vampire” originated and to give a little history behind WHY he became the way he did. Dracula’s army was vastly out numbered,yet he battled the Sultan successfully for years before finally being caught and killed. It must be remembered that one of the Sultan’s techniques in dealing with ” War Prisoners” was to impale them on sticks,so in truth “Vlad the Impaler” was merely imitating a horrific torture technique that he had seen used against his own countrymen. This is not to excuse it—only to give some perspective as to the time he lived in.