Vlad Tepes - Romanian history

Posted by Claudia Moser on 5:55 PM in , , ,
This afternoon, while visiting some friends, I started telling them the story of Vlad Tepes (pronounced tse-pesh), the one who was taken as an example for the Dracula figure in Bram Stoker's novel. Don't ask me how we started talking about him, but fits also this weekly theme under GBE2 - History.

While searching I found a website which provides a very detailed history of this historical figure.

Some details for you, which maybe will inspire you to read a bit more in order to realise that my native country, Romania, is not only about vampires and garlic.

To begin with, his castle, Bran.

Vlad Tepes intermittently ruled an area of the Balkans called Wallachia in the mid 15th century, being also called by the names Vlad III, Vlad Dracula and Vlad the Impaler. The word Tepes stands for "impaler" and was so coined because of Vlad’s propensity to punish victims by impaling them on stakes, then displaying them publicly to frighten his enemies and to warn would-be transgressors of his strict moral code.

His portrait:

King Sigismund of Hungary, who became the Holy Roman Emperor in 1410, founded a secret fraternal order of knights called the Order of the Dragon to uphold Christianity and defend the Empire against the Ottoman Turks. Its emblem was a dragon, wings extended, hanging on a cross. Vlad III’s father (Vlad II) was admitted to the Order around 1431 because of his bravery in fighting the Turks. From 1431 onward Vlad II wore the emblem of the order and later, as ruler of Wallachia, his coinage bore the dragon symbol.

The word for dragon in Romanian is "drac" and "ul" is the definitive article. Vlad III’s father thus came to be known as "Vlad Dracul," or "Vlad the dragon." In Romanian the ending "ulea" means "the son of". Under this interpretation, Vlad III thus became Vlad Dracula, or "the son of the dragon." Thus the origin of Dracula.

The scholars make the connection between Vlad Tepes and Barm Stoker's character based on several facts:

The fictional Dracula and the historical Dracula share the same name. There can be no doubt that Bram Stoker based his character upon some reference to Vlad Dracula.

Stoker researched various sources prior to writing the novel, including the Library at Whitby and literature from the British Museum. It is entirely possible that his readings on Balkan history would have included information about Vlad Tepes.

Stoker was the friend of a Hungarian professor from Budapest, named Arminius Vambery, who he met personally on several occasions and who may have given him information about the historical Dracula.

Some of the text of Stoker’s novel provides direct correlations between the fictional Dracula and Vlad Tepes (e.g., the fighting off of the Turks--also, the physical description of Dracula in the novel is very similar to the traditional image of Vlad Tepes.).

Other references in the novel may also be related to the historical Dracula. For example, the driving of a stake through the vampire’s heart may be related to Vlad’s use of impalement.

If you want to find more, just go and read the information on the site, I found it fascinating.

And this what the movie making business made out of this!



I have the sequel written by Stoker's grandson. Dracula The Un-Dead
It looks interesting. I wonder if there will be some historical references

@Frizzy Hooker - do not forget it is fiction, so the historical references just make the atmosphere!

This is a great visit through history I may not have taken the time to see otherwise. I did not know that Dracul was another way of saying Dragon... and I LOVE dragons:-) Nice job on this!

What a very interesting story about Vlad Tepes for us today. Thank you for that little bit of history!!

I love your history lessons they are far more interesting than at school.

This is indeed fascinating! Thanks for sharing.


You are just determined to educate us, aren't you? lol I love reading your stuff and if I learn a little something along the way, well that's just good gravy on the side! ♥

Very interesting! I like history and I like dragons - this was a great melding of the two.

I did not know Dracula meant 'son of the dragon'. Very interesting as is the story of his father. I had read before that he was a horribly cruel man. I do like Dracula movies if they aren't too gory.

Great post. I love the castle image.

Anonymous says:

Very interesting history. Thanks for sharing.

I found this really interesting. Most of it was new to me - that castle is beautiful by the way :-)

So interesting Claudia, thanks for that....now I can share with my kids!

@November Rain - I am glad you found it interesting, it was a gamble to choose the time!
@Diane - always welcome!
@Luan - well thank you very much!
@Joyce - welcome!
@Jo - well not to educate, but to present a little bit of my world and I found that Vlad Tepes has not a good reputation.
@Laurie - happy you found something worth reading!
@Belle - the old movies were very spookie right?
@Laura - and it exists, lovely place to visit!
@KAT - gladly!
@Sarah - who knows what I will find next right? :)
@Anna - I hope they will enjoy it as well!

Anonymous says:

Thanks for the history lesson. I especially learned about the origin of the word "Dracula."

I also love the picture of the castle. Very cool!

This is a very interesting story, Claudia, and you tell it well--great photos, too. I also didn't know the origin of the name Dracula, but I love it. What a surprising association--a dragon and a cross!

thank you for the history lesson- fascinating info Claudia.

I am new here and am glad I stopped at one of your stories. it was fascinating and I wanted to read more.

@Beachlover - I am glad that you found it interesting, the castle is worth visiting one day!
@Elaine - well yes, an interesting association indeed!
@Sylvia - welcome!
@Sondra - please drop by at any time, I just hope that my stories will be as interesting as this one and allow to keep coming :)

Anonymous says:

"...punish victims by impaling them on stakes, then displaying them publicly to frighten his enemies and to warn would-be transgressors..."

Yep, that should do it. ;O)

@Beth - it did have an impact, that is true!

Absolutely fascinating tale about a frightful man. Thank you

You are welcome Larry, glad you enjoyed it!

I read Stoker's Dracula when I was about nine (and hard going it was!), but I loved the idea of the vampire, and that fascination has stayed with me. I thought the Gary Oldman version of Dracula was brilliant, and he even looked a bit like good ole Vlad :o) Loved your 'potted' history of Vlad and his dad. Impressive dragons they were, if maybe a little bloodthirsty for these insipid times!

i love, love, luv Gary Oldman. such a great actor & love this movie so. (:

@Gil - yes, the history is sometimes so fascinating and I agree that Oldman was the best in this role!
@Beth - it is a good movie, you are righy!

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