The Life & Times Of Dracula
The year was 1431 and the place was Transylvania when an aristocratic family experienced the birth of their newest addition. He was given the name Vlad also known as Dracula. His father was a member of the Order of the Dragon which was in conflict with the Ottoman Empire of the Muslim south. Because of his membership in this order, his name was Dracul, which in Romanian meant "dragon" or "devil".
Turbulent were the times in which Dracula lived. Two grand empires, the Austrian Hapsburgs and the Ottoman Turks bordered Transylvania. Young Dracula soon learned that vengeance, cruelty and deceit were the order of the day. Twice Dracula endured imprisonment. He was first dragged away in shackles by the Turks and then imprisoned for a second time by Hungarian forces. To add to his tragic story, fiery iron stakes heated in a forge were used to gouge out the eyes of his brother Mircea and his father was also murdered.
In the last 28 years of his life, from 1448 to 1476, Dracula held dominion over two lands that are still a part of modern Romania: Transylvania and Walachia. His throne was taken from him twice, once by his brother whose name was Radu. On both occasions, however, he fought and regained it. Dracula became notorious for his methods which the Vatican frowned upon, although there was a time when they commended him for defending Christianity. The Holy Roman Church was often in this type of uncomfortable position in those ages. They had to uphold the efforts of those who defended Christianity against what Rome saw as their eternal enemies in the Muslim world, but had to turn a blind eye to the atrocities which were committed in the name of Jesus Christ.
Fifty monasteries were established by his family during a period of a century and a half because in that era, it was the general belief that that proper burial and religious charity would give one a clean slate and secure entry into heaven. Dracula himself founded five of those monasteries and spent considerable time in the company of priests. Dracula's reign came to a dramatic end when, in December of 1476 while in battle with the Turks in the region near Bucharest in Romania, his head was chopped off and put on display in Constantinople.
An elaborate shroud made from precious purple cloth embroidered with fine gold partially covered a casket discovered by archaeologists in 1931 in Snagov. Pieces of a silk brocade which was similar to that of shirt worn by Dracula in an original painting depicting him, covered the skeleton inside. A ring and a crown were also found in the casket. The ring bore resemblance to those utilized by the Order of the Dragon and was affixed into a sleeve of the shirt and the crown was covered with turquoise stones. The mysteries of the real Prince Dracula still remain as mysteries because the contents that had been shipped off to the History Museum in Bucharest have since vanished, leaving no trace.
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