What comes to your mind when you hear the name Dracula? Do you think of the devilish, fiendish vampire Count Dracula created by the famous Bram Stoker? If you are familiar with much history, maybe you think of the cruel, powerful, and creepy Vlad III Tepes Dracula. Both of the Draculas are very well known, but yet people see them as almost one. This is understandable knowing what the media did putting them together. This angers some people, yet does not bother others, but it does bring up the subject on why it angers people, or leaves others at rest with the idea. The question brought up is: Did Bram Stoker base his Dracula upon the historical Dracula? Bram Stoker based his character of Count Dracula off bits and pieces of the historical Vlad III Tepes Dracula’s life, and combined it with his imagination, historical vampire lore, superstitions, supernatural lore, and the life of others around him.
Vlad III Tepes Dracula is a famous person in history without the connection of Count Dracula to him. You may not learn about him in your basic history class, but he is widely known, especially in Europe, and in his country Walachia, which is now Romania. Transylvania is an area in present day Romania. In Dracula’s time, Transylvania was its own nation, and this is where Vlad Tepes was born. He was born in the city of Sighisoara, and only lived there as a child. This is where he lived with his mother and brother, and where he got his education. But once he grew up, and was sent as a hostage to the Turks by his father to keep peace, he never really lived in Transylvania. The castle that everyone clamed was his, Vlad Tepes might have slept in the castle once in his entire life, when he was an adult. The real nation that Dracula lived and had ruled in, is Walachia, which is another former nation that is now Romania. Vlad Tepes was the Prince of Walachia, and that is where he fought off the Turks, and did
many of his famous and terrible doings. This is the land he fought for, this is the land which he tried to make a great society under his iron fisted rule.
Dracula was born in 1431 in the Transylvanian city of Sighisoara. At that time Dracula's father, Vlad II Dracul, was living in exile in Transylvania. Vlad Dracul was in Transylvania attempting to gather support for his planned effort to seize the Wallachian throne from the Danesti Prince, Alexandru I. The house where Dracula was born is still standing. In 1431 it was located in a prosperous neighborhood (of the fortress town Sighisoara, ed.) surrounded by the homes of Saxon and Magyar merchants and the townhouses of the nobility.
(The Historical Dracula)
Vlad III Tepes Dracula has a long history of him and his ancestors on why his name is so long. He is Vlad the third because his father was the second, and his grandfather was the first. The actions of his father and grandfather are what led to Vlad Tepes and his power. The name Dracula was kind of like a surname at the time. His father, Vlad II, joined a knightly order to fight the Turks called Order of the Dragon, by the pope’s request. Hereby he added ‘Dracul’, which means dragon, to his name and became Vlad II Dracul. “Vlad II Dracul becomes Vlad II, the Dragon and his son, Vlad III Dracula, becomes Vlad III, the Son of the Dragon” (The Historical Dracula). ‘Dragon’ was not the only definition for Dracul. Dracul also meant devil in Romanian. Vlad Tepes got the name Dracula, which meant son of the dragon, or son of the devil in Romanian, by adding ‘a’ at the end. The ‘a’ at the end of certain words means ‘son of’.
The name Tepes Vlad Dracula earned himself. It is said that his enemies had given him the name. Tepes means ‘the impaler’, and Vlad III earned it by impaling many people.
The most well known thing about Vlad Tepes, is the fact he killed hundreds of thousands of people, most commonly through the impaling method. Vlad Tepes is also known for others things. Even though he killed very many people, most of the time he had done it for his land and people. He, like his father before him, tried his best to drive the Turks out of his land. Vlad Tepes did use cruel ways to make this happen, but he did what he thought was best. He drove the Turks out over and over again, until his death. One way Vlad used to scare his enemies was to dine in front of the people being impaled and dip his bread in the enemies blood before he ate it. This is scary, and that is why it was effective. His people hated him, loved him, and feared him. People hated him for all the cruel things he had done, people loved him because he drove out the Turks, people feared him because many got killed by torture because of one lie they made, stole once, or committed a minor crime. Vlad followed something similar to the Justinian Code, except for the fact that instead of something being cut off, he just killed them in a cruel fashion. Vlad Tepes died fighting the invading Turks.
Count Dracula is one of the most famous fictional figures. He is a vampire that is hundreds of centuries old. Like all vampires he drinks the blood of people so he can live, and look young. And like all vampires, he is feared. In the book Dracula by Bram Stoker, Count Dracula lives in a castle in Transylvania. He is Count of Transylvania, and his name means ‘Son of the Devil’. Like Vlad Tepes he also drove away the Turks from his homeland, which is Transylvania.
Bram Stoker was the creative writer of Dracula. He was an Irish writer most known for his book Dracula and The Mummy. He heard many horror stories about were-
wolves, undead (including vampires), ghosts, and witches, and the undead fascinated him most, which is why he wrote his two most famous books. So he already decided what he wanted to write about and he had decided to write a vampire novel in March of 1890, yet this is before he found anything about Vlad Dracula. Stoker already had a title for his book, it was called Count Wampyr. Only later in his research did Stoker find any information on Dracula, and yet it was very little. He found his information when he went to the library, in a book called: An Account of the Principles of Walachia and Moldavia. He found only a few main points about Dracula in the book, the name Dracula (Not Vlad III Tepes Dracula, just Dracula), that he was a ruler, and that he drove out the Turks. And he used that little information in his book:
I have asked my friend Arminius, of Buda-Pesth University, to make his record; and, from all the means that are, he tell me of what he has been. He must, indeed, have been that Voivode Dracula who won his name against the Turk, over the great river on the very frontier of Turkey-land. If it be so, then was he no common man; for in that time, and for centuries after, he was spoken of as the cleverest and the most cunning, as well as the bravest of the sons of the ‘land beyond the forest’.... The Draculas were, says Arminius, a great and noble race, though now and again were scions who were held by their coevals to have had dealings with the Evil One. They learned his secrets in the Scholomance, amongst the
mountains over Lake Hermanstadt, where the devil claims the tenth scholar as his due. In the records are such words as ‘stregoica’ -- witch, ‘ordog,’ and ‘pokol’ –
Satan and hell; and in one manuscript this very Dracula is spoken of as ‘wampyr,’ which we all understand too well. (Dracula 246)
Nobody knows why he chose Transylvania, maybe because it was next to Walachia, so even though he knew where Dracula was from, he did not use it. As written in his notes, he used the name Dracula because he saw it meant ‘Son of the Devil’ in Romanian, and found it very neat. His choice of putting in that Dracula drove out Turks, was used as the back round information on his character.
When comparing and contrasting the two Draculas, many things can be pointed out:
1) Both have name Dracula, even though Stoker knew only one meaning.
2) Even though they ruled different nations, they were in the same general area.
3) Vlad Tepes didn’t really drink blood, he dipped his bread in blood, and done this not very often. It was not very uncommon to do that though. There were rulers then who had done this just like Vlad Tepes to proclaim fear in their enemies. Count Dracula drank blood like all vampires, so he can live, and stay young.
4) When the face of Count Dracula was described, it sounded like the description of Vlad Tepes, but the description also fits the look of Henry Irving, Bram Stoker’s employer, and the bushy eyebrows and mustache was a common use in gothic literature. Stoker also never mentions in his notes what Voviode Dracula (Vlad Tepes) looked like.
In figure 1. is the original look for Count Dracula that Stoker described (Bram Stoker’s Dracula). In figure 2. is the painting of Vlad III Tepes Dracula (Vlad Tepes/Dracula/The Impaler). Figure 3. is the portrait of Sir Henry Irving( Sir Henry Irving).
1. 2. 3.
The looks on the Dracula and Dracula situation is a two way split, people who do think that Stoker based his Dracula upon the historical Vlad Tepes, and people who think Stoker did not base his Dracula upon the historical Vlad Tepes. Here are some of the reasons that people say that Stoker did use Vlad Tepes:
1) People say that Stoker read very much on Vlad Dracula, and learned some information from friends.
The two men [Stoker and Vambéry] dined together, and during the course of their conversation, Bram was impressed by the professor’s stories about Dracula ‘the impaler’. After Vambéry returned to Budapest, Bram wrote to him, requesting more details about the notorious 15th century prince and the land he lived in.
(Count Dracula vs Vlad Tepes)
2) Vlad and Count Dracula are described as similar looking.
3) Both of the Draculas lived in present day Romania.
4) The name Dracula.
5) Stoker described in the book a brief historical fact about Dracula driving out the Turks.
6) Because Vlad Tepes impaled people in real that, life is the reason that Count Dracula can only be killed by having a stake go through his heart.
Reasons going against these:
1) Stoker never knew more than he put in his notes. There is no record of his friend giving any information to him about Vlad Tepes.
He only fact we have is that they dined together. Stoker makes no reference to Vambéry in his working papers. No documented evidence exists that Vambéry gave Stoker any information about Vlad, or for that matter, about vampires.
(Count Dracula vs Vlad Tepes)
2) Bram Stoker took his look for Dracula from his employer, Henry Irving.
3) As it has been known, Vlad only lived in Transylvania as a child, and he was ruler of Wallachia, which was in present day Romania, but not part of Transylvania.
4) Dracula was a name that Stoker saw in a book, while researching, and he saw that Dracula in Romanian meant ‘Son of the devil’. He found it interesting, and put it in his notes.
That Stoker considered this important is evident in that he copied into his own notes “DRACULA in Wallachian language means DEVIL.” The three references to “Dracula” in Wilkinson’s text, along with the footnote, are the only
occurrences of the name in all of the sources that we know that Stoker consulted. (Count Dracula vs Vlad Tepes)
5) In the same location Stoker found the name Dracula, he found a brief part of Vlad’s history. This was Dracula driving out the Turks.
6) The staking of a vampire did not come from Vlad impaling people. Stake to the heart is a classic gothic style used to kill vampires, that has been around way before Dracula.
There are also the Romanians, and their view on the subject. The people of Walachia and Transylvania in the modern country. They were ruled under communism until 1992-1993, and communism didn’t allow books like Dracula into the country, so they did not even hear or read about this book until 1993. When the people did find out about the book, and read it, many were outraged, and some took this calmly, knowing the two were different people. Vlad Tepes was a national hero to them, and Count Dracula is a villain of a fictional story.
Many parts are obvious that Stoker based Count Dracula off of Vlad Tepes, like the name and the brief part in history, yet he did not base the vampire very much upon Vlad Tepes, only enough to make the character more interesting. The name “Dracula” was taken, even though Stoker did not know the history in the name. The location that was chosen is still an unsettled debate. Never in Stoker’s notes did it say anything about Transylvania, yet he may have know that Dracula was born there, and did not write it down. Stoker also took the brief history of Vlad Tepes, and added that to his book, so Dracula had a history. Bram Stoker has made the most famous vampire around today, but would not have been if the media did not help.
The media made Count Dracula more exciting for us, connected him to Vlad III Dracula Tepes, and created a whole new image. Who knows though, maybe Stoker knew more information on Vlad Tepes, and decided not to use it.