Vlad the Impaler - Dracula
Where does one come up with ideas when they tell or write a story? What influences an author’s life that manifests itself onto paper and spins an imaginative tale? When you look at Greek Mythology where did they come up with Gods and Goddesses that intermingle with mere humans. Where do the stories come from when we read or talk about werewolves, the walking dead, and the ever-popular vampire? When it comes to vampire’s we may have the answer to that question. What spurred Bram Stoker to write, Dracula?
"As the Count leaned over me and his hands touched me... a horrible feeling of nausea came over me, which, do what I would, I could not conceal."
- Bram Stoker, Dracula
Vlad the Impaler
During his reign he would be duded Vlad the Impaler and his story may have influenced what has now become the ever-popular vampire stories. Whether it’s the TV series True Blood or the popular Twilight Trilogy, Vlad’s influence has been felt for over 500 years. What kind of man was he that so many stories have been spun from his life? For us, the modern day reader this all started with Bram Stokers story of Count Dracula and his nighttime philandering on unsuspecting victims. Lets go back and see what may have influenced him to write such a story.
Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia was born in the later part of the year 1431 and was son of Vlad II. Vlad II was a member of the Order of the Dragon (Dracul), and Dracula means son of the Dragon, which would apply to his son Vlad III. At age 5 Vlad III would also be initiated into the Order of the Dragon. This can be surmised as to where the name Dracula came from when referencing Vlad III but is only a small portion of the man that would inspire Bram Stoker’s story.
Vlad III was born in Transylvania and is another piece of the puzzle as to the story of Count Dracula. His early life was much like any other young boy of noble birth and one who will one day be a leader. In all accounts he was brought up a Christian and taught how to be a knight. In December 1447 his father was killed and his older brother Mircea was buried alive at Targoviste. From 1447 to 1448 Vladislav II was on the throne after the death of Vlad II, and then Vlad III reigned for a very short time. Vlad III would be on the throne twice, this being his first reign and only lasted a few months. Vlad III would go into exile until 1456.
With support of Hunyadi and the Hungarians he returned to the throne. Vlad III would make Tirgoviste his capitol city and began building his castle in the mountains near the Arges River. It was during this time that he would earn the name Vlad the Impaler because of his efforts against the Ottoman Empire and it’s expanding rule.
Vlad III was noted for being very cruel and was known for impaling his enemies. His total number of victims runs from a few thousand to tens of thousands. There are stories of Vlad III eating human flesh and drinking blood. While it is also speculated that he was allergic to blood and that is why he was so pale looking. Other stories stating that while imprisoned when he was younger he tortured and impaled rodents to pass the time. It is also told that he killed his mistress after she lied about being pregnant by him. Vlad’s reputation may be exaggerated depending on whom these stories were written by. Some say he was a champion for his people and fought off foreign invaders. Despite some of the good things said about him, Vlad Dracula is still remembered for his horrific cruelty to others and the lasting impression of seeing his enemies impaled on stakes.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
One can see how the story of Vlad the Impaler influenced the writing of Bram Stoker and other authors in the late 1800’s. Whatever influenced Bram Stoker to write Dracula must have left an impression on him to come up with such a great story. As writers of today have been influenced by his book to go on and create more vampire stories. As stories go, this one has kept many readers up all night, with their windows locked and the smell of garlic hangs in the air.
Vlad the Impaler led the way with his cruelty to inspire writers 100 years after his death even today 535 years later. It took the imagination of Bram Stoker to take reality and turn it into a book to bring us the vampire that now permeates our culture today.