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Interview with Dracula
Interview with Dracula - Vlad Dracula, that is
You already know all about my superior, supernatural method of interviewing if you read my previous interviews with Genghis Kahn and Napoleon Bonaparte. Succinctly stated, I see (and interview) “dead people.” Yes, really. I do. Now let’s get to it and learn more about Dracula.
me – How do you do, Prince Dracula.
Dracula – Muhwaaahhaaa! Did that scare you?
me – Actually . . . yes! Although it didn’t scare me as much as what I have learned about you. I do appreciate, however, that you agreed to this interview. And you didn’t object when I asked you to check your weapons at the door.
Dracula – no problem. I want to set the record straight. But you can call me Vlad. My real name is Vlad III or Vlad Dracula. Later, I was called Vlad Tepes or Vlad the Impaler.
me – Your name is Vlad Dracula? Not just Dracula?
Vlad - Let me explain the Dracula part. Have you interviewed King Sigismund of Hungary?
me – Not yet.
Vlad – Well, Siggy became the Holy Roman Emperor in 1410 and founded a secret fraternal order of knights called the Order of the Dragon – much like your Masons –.to defend the Empire against the Ottoman Turks. My father, Vlad II, was admitted to the Order around 1431 because of his bravery in fighting the Turks.
In the Romanian language, the word for dragon is "drac" so my father was known as "Vlad Dracul” or Vlad the dragon. My name is Vlad III so I became “Vlad Dracula” or the son of the dragon. I probably shouldn’t mention this but the word "drac" also means "devil" in Romanian.
me – No, you probably should not have mentioned that. When and where were you born, Vlad?
Transylvania and Wallachia in Romania
Bruce Lee Films
Jackie Chan films
Vlad – I was born in November or December, 1431 - my mother didn't have the calendar app in her cellphone - in the city of Sighisoara, Transylvania – a region northwest of Wallachia in Romania.
The house where I was born is still standing. It was surrounded by townhouses owned by the nobility. Nearby lived the ancestors of Petra Vlah, Rebecca E. and Mr. Happy.
Note: Transylvania means “across the woods” in Latin.
me – Were you an only child?
Vlad – Oh, no, I had an older brother, Mircea, and a younger brother, Radu the Handsome. He was a genuine “babe magnet.” I was home schooled by my mother, a Transylvanian noblewoman and her family. My real-life education began in 1436 when my father assassinated his rival and claimed the throne of Wallachia. Then I had a tutor who had fought against the Turks who taught me the skills of war. We both spent hours practicing our moves while watching movies with Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan.
In 1444, when I was thirteen, my brother, Radu, and I were sent to Adrianople, Turkey as hostages to appease the Sultan where I remained until 1448 when I was released by the Turks, who supported me as their candidate for the Wallachian throne. My brother, Radu, chose to remain in Turkey, where he had grown up.
me – Why did the Turks want you on the throne? What had happened to your father, Vlad II?
Vlad – My father was assassinated – brutally murdered by Wallachian nobles (boyars) and merchants in 1447. There was no primogeniture – the right of the first-born to inherit – in those days. Assassination was the order of the day. My big brother, Mircea, was buried alive. Buried alive! I vowed to seek revenge on all those responsible.
Note: To better understand Vlad III, it is important to know a little history of Wallachia during the 15th century. Two powerful forces, the Hungarian Kingdom and the Ottoman Empire, sought to control Wallachia located directly between them.
Rulers of Wallachia were forced to appease these two empires to maintain their survival, forging alliances with one or the other, depending upon what served them best at the time. Vlad III is best known by the Romanian people for his success in standing up to the encroaching Ottoman Turks and establishing relative independence for a brief period.
Books about Vlad Dracula
Vlad the Impaler - Ruler of Wallachia 1456 - 1462
Vlad – I began my main reign of Wallachia by assassinating Vladislav II (not related) and seizing the throne. I instituted strict policies, stood firm against the Turks and began what some have labeled my “reign of terror by impalement.” That’s when my name became Vlad Tepes (pronounced tzse-pesh) or Vlad the Impaler.
me – Were you the first to institute impalement as a punishment?
Vlad – Oh, no, impalement was fairly common at that time in our neck of the woods. Don’t you impale people nowadays in America?
me – No, that is only done by the media. You know, press, television, radio, films, blogs …
Vlad – Yes, I know blogs. They are dirty and muddy and difficult to navigate.
me – I believe you may be thinking of bogs. On the other hand, you may be correct.
More about Impalement
Vlad – Speaking of impalement, it was used as a major form of execution by early civilizations in Persia and Rome and became popular in the Middle Ages in Asia and in Europe – particularly in the Ottoman Empire, Poland, Sweden, and by Ivan the Terrible in Russia, and me.
me – I know I will regret asking, but how exactly did this method of torture and execution work?
Vlad – You need a long, strong stake rounded at one end. That end penetrates the unlucky victim through any one of several orifices until it emerges at the other end. The stake was often then planted firmly in the ground and the impaled person was suspended to die slowly and painfully.
me – Why a blunt end on the stake?
Vlad – A sharp end could puncture some vital organs and the person would die quickly. A blunt end pushed the organs to the side to postpone a quick death.
me – But why plant these unfortunate souls in the ground?
Vlad – Two reasons. They were displayed publicly to frighten our enemies, and as a warning to the people that transgressions of my strict moral code would not be tolerated. The penalty was death by impalement,
me – Are you aware that some estimates of the number of people executed in this manner number in the thousands?
Vlad – To paraphrase Mark Twain,” the rumors” of those numbers “were greatly exaggerated.”
Even then in the 15th century, I knew the value of “show and tell.” So I often had stakes arranged in a pattern of concentric circles on the outskirts of a city that was my target. The height of the spear indicated the rank of the victim. The decaying corpses would be displayed there for months. One time, an invading Turkish army retreated in terror when it encountered all these rotting corpses impaled on the banks of the Danube.
me – What happened to the Wallachian nobles or boyars who were part of the conspiracy that assassinated your father and buried your brother alive?
Vlad – To solidify my power and avenge my family, I invited the nobles and their families to a feast to celebrate Easter, All the older nobles and their families were impaled. The younger and healthier nobles were marched north to the ruins of my castle above the Arges River. They were forced to labor at rebuilding the old castle. Very few survived.
Strict Moral Code
me – Is it true you impaled people who were not nobles or rich merchants?
Vlad – The people who did not obey my strict moral code were impaled whatever their rank. To replace the nobles, I promoted men from among the peasants and the middle class – men who would be loyal only to me, their prince and ruler.
me – What were some of the requirements of this strict moral code?
Vlad – Female chastity was of supreme importance. Maidens who lost their virginity, wives who were adulterous, widows who were not chaste – all ran the risk of impalement. I also insisted that my people be honest and hard-working. Merchants who cheated customers were likely to find themselves mounted on stakes beside common thieves.
The Golden Cup and other stories
Vlad – Have you heard the story about the Golden Cup? My people knew about my fierce insistence on honesty. Thieves seldom dared practice their trade within my domain because they knew that the stake awaited any who were caught. In fact, I was so confident in the effectiveness of my strict laws that I placed a cup made of solid gold on display in the central square of the city of Tirgoviste. The cup was never stolen and remained there throughout my reign.
me – That is remarkable. Any other relevant anecdotes?
Vlad – There is the story about the two foreign ambassadors who visited my court. It is the custom for visitors to remove their hats in my presence. When they arrived for an audience with me, they refused to remove their hats. I ordered their hats to be nailed to their heads so they would never have to bother removing them again.
Note: This was not an isolated Vladian incident. The nailing of hats to the heads of those who displeased a monarch was not an unknown act in eastern Europe and Russia.
me – I have heard of a story of a foreign merchant and gold coins.
Vlad – True. A Hungarian merchant visited my capital of Tirgoviste. I ordered him to leave his wagon of gold coins in the street overnight. I wanted to demonstrate the honesty of my people. In the morning, 160 gold florins were missing. I promised that the money would be replaced. My men found the thief and the missing money. In the morning the merchant found his money returned with one additional florin. He told me and we had breakfast together while the thief was impaled nearby. I told the merchant I had added the extra gold coin, and if he had not been honest about reporting it, I would have had him impaled with the thief. For some reason, the guy couldn’t finish his breakfast.
The End of Vlad Dracula
me – How did the Turks manage to finally defeat you?
Vlad – I won many battles against the Ottoman Turks but received little support from my overlord, Matthias Corvinus, the King of Hungary. Our Wallachian resources were way too limited to achieve lasting success against the powerful Turks. I was forced to flee to my castle in Transylvania in 1462.
My wife committed suicide by leaping from the castle tower into the Arges River rather than surrender to the Turks. I escaped through a secret passage and fled into Transylvania where I appealed to the king for assistance. He, that “dirty rat” (the actor, James Cagney stole that line from me) had me arrested and imprisoned in a royal tower.
Although I was a prisoner, I was treated well and gradually won my way back into the graces of the king. With my charisma and ready smile, I charmed and married a member of the royal family (the king’s sister) and fathered two sons.
In 1476 I invaded Wallachia with a mixed contingent of forces to regain my empire. Before I could gather additional support, a large Turkish army entered Wallachia and I was forced to march and meet them with less than 4,000 men. Some reports indicate that I was assassinated by disloyal Wallachian nobles just as I was about to conquer the Turks in Bucharest.
Still other reports claim that at the moment of victory, I was accidentally struck down by one of my own men. I died so I can’t say which was the truth. The one undisputed fact is that ultimately my body was decapitated by the Turks and my head sent to Constantinople where the sultan had it displayed on a stake as proof that I was finally dead. The rest of me was buried at Snagov, an island monastery located near Bucharest.
me – I have been too polite to ask before but now that you mention it, I have noticed that your head is slightly off-center to your neck.
Vlad – I met this scientist who reattached it for me but he was very old and a little shaky.
me – What was his name?
Vlad – Dr. Frankenstein.
Note: Vlad Dracula is remembered as a just prince and warrior who defended his people from foreigners, whether those foreigners were Turkish invaders or Saxon merchants. He is also remembered as a champion of the common man against the oppression of the boyars. He was a stern ruler who tolerated no crime against his people, and during his reign erected several monasteries. However, despite the more positive interpretation of his life, Vlad Dracula is still remembered as an exceptionally cruel and often capricious ruler. Worshiped but at the same time, feared by his people.
In 1976, the Romanian government issued four new commemorative stamps on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of Vlad Tepes' death.
More Supernatural Interviews
- Interview with Cleopatra
Cleopatra Last Pharaoh of Egypt Until now I have been using my superhuman skills in superior, supernatural interviewing to talk with dead people famous but altogether dead people
- Interview with Genghis Khan
I know what you are thinking. Genghis died in the year 1227. That's almost 800 years ago. True. But there have been many remarkable new developments in cryogenic research.
- Interview with Napoleon Bonaparte
Good news! I have invented a praiseworthy process for interviewing famous people who are no longer around . . . to defend themselves . . . or sue for libel.
One More Question
me – Before you leave, one more question, Vlad. Did Bram Stoker base his famous book, “Dracula,” upon you?
Vlad – Of course, he crossed his heart and told me so … all of it except the vampire and drinking blood. That was his invention. Think about these facts:
- Dracula, in Stoker’s book, and I share the same name.
- Bram’s research included materials describing Balkan history.
- His close friend, Arminius Vambery, a Hungarian professor from Budapest, gave him detailed information about me.
- The physical description of Dracula in the novel is very similar to the traditional image of me. Although I was much better looking with a shorter nose.
- Driving a stake through the vampire’s heart was related to my proclivity for impalement.
- My name, Dracula, means devil in the Wallachian language. Need I say more?
One last note: Gypsy legends relate that Dracula returned to earth 200 years after his death. He looked much the same but was less violent and fitted in well with the times. They also say that he never died and carries his coffin around with him still to this day. Muhwaaahhaaa!
© Copyright BJ Rakow Ph.D. 2010, 2011. All rights reserved. Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So"