By Lois Batu
Who is the real Dracula? When the name “Dracula” is mentioned, should we refer to the undead blood-sucking vampire who sleeps in coffins and transforms into a bat, or should we reflect upon a fifteenth century Romanian prince with an obsession for impalement? Such questions lead us to realize that folklore offers us one Dracula, while history offers us another. We can thank Bram Stoker for stealing Dracula’s name and replacing it with a mythical villain who cannot even endure sunlight, and for leaving us to piece together the truth of a forgotten man. When the myth finally dies, and the fables are at last put to bed, the name of Dracula will remain unchanged in our history books – as it has for over half a millennia. Then we will find that the true history of Dracula, in fact, is far more fascinating than any vampire fairy tale.
The real Dracula, Vlad Tepes III Dracula, was born during the winter months of 1431 in the Transylvanian fortress of Sighisoara, located in Romania. Dracula’s father, Vlad II, had three sons: the eldest, Mircea; Vlad, who kept his namesake; and Radu, who would come to be known as “The Handsome.” The early childhoods of Dracula and Radu were typical for sons of the nobility. Dracula’s first steps in becoming a monster were taken on at the age of five, when he began a formal apprenticeship for knighthood. Dracula learned the art of warfare, and the skills of combat deemed necessary for a Christian knight living in turbulent Europe.
Contrary to the popular romantic legends of the Draculas living in Transylvania, they resided just southeast, in the Romanian independent province of Wallachi Wallachia, a principality, was often found caught in the middle of the constant power struggle between its stronger neighbors, Hungary and Turkey. At that time, Vlad II was living in Transylvania attempting to gather support for his intended effort to seize the Wallachian throne... [continues]
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