The Count Dracula Legend
Bram Stoker loosely based his mythical character ‘Count Dracula’ on the medieval Prince of Transylvania, Vlad Tepes. Vlad Tepes translates as Vlad the Impaler from Romanian, a name well earned from his favourite punishment, hammering a large wooden stake up through his unfortunate victim. He would then prop them up for all to see. Vlad wasn’t one to do things by half, and on one occasion impaled 30,000 (yes 30,000!) merchants for breaking trade laws. For good measure he had them displayed outside the city to discourage anyone else from plying their trade on Sundays….
Vlad was born in Sighisoara which is today one of the best examples of a Medieval Citadel in Transylvania. The building where he was born is now a restaurant and a popular venue with our guests. If you listen carefully you might still hear the screams of 30,000 poor souls being served their stakes…..
Bram Stoker took Vlad and merged his legend with that of another Eastern European historical figure, the delightful Countess Erzabet Bathory. The Countess liked to bathe in the blood of virgins in the belief that it would keep her youthful.
Erzabets interesting relatives included an uncle supposedly “addicted to rituals”, who worshiped Satan and her auntie Klara who reputedly enjoyed torturing servants. Elizabeth’s brother, Stephan was an infamous drunk and lecher.
As a child Erzabets had witnessed the torture and execution of a gypsy who was sewn up inside a horse and left to die there…hmmm….
Grizzly times indeed and to add to these daily horrors there were bedtime stories of ‘the living dead’, otherwise known as Vampires. Vampires formed a very real fear for the medieval Transylvanian peasant. Turning to a swirling cloud of mist or smoke the fiend could enter while you slept and gorge on your blood. Once feasted on three times you too would become a Vampire. Suicide victims were thought to be particularly susceptible to the charms of the Vampire and would often be buried with a wooden stake driven through their hearts pinning them into their coffins, thus discouraging any night time jaunts. As recently as the 2002 it has been reported that the body of a man ‘seen’ around a remote peasant village in Transylvania was exhumed by his relatives for the sole purpose of driving a stake through his heart.
… Bram Stoker managed to weave together all these stories, myths and legends and come up with good old Count Dracula and as they say…. ‘the rest is history’……