The Truth Behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula – Vlad Dracula, Romania

The number one bloodsucker, or was he? Many of us know Vlad Dracula III from the notorious work of Bram Stoker’s, Dracula. The blood-letting vampire of Transylvania, the father of all vampires. The legend of this dark prince is compelling and has been woven into the fabric of the western world however, it is a stretch from the real story of Prince Vlad Dracula of Wallachia (now modern-day Romania).

Dracula -Son of he who has the Order of the Dragon – The Most Evil Men in History

Bran Castle

Bran Castle the castle which Bram Stoker based Dracula from – by wikimedia commons

A Warm and Fuzzy Family History of Vlad Dracula III

Vlad Dracula was son of Vlad Dracul, dracul meaning “dragon” and this dragon dude was the head of the Christian Order of the Dragon, an elite group of Royalty with a hellbent mission to defend the cross against the Turks and the Hungarians, no matter what the cost. For Vlad Dracul this meant making his two sons the sacrificial lambs to his Hungarian enemies as an offering (and insurance policy) of peace. Kinda…

Vlad Dracula by wikipedia

Vlad Dracula by wikipedia

Ultimately, Vlad Dracul had no intention of peace with the Turks or Hungarians and was planning a massive attack. Meanwhile back at the ranch, Vlad Dracula and his brother Radu III “the Handsome” were being held hostage in a foreign land.

Romania’s Visitors Bureau

The Evolution of a Psychopath

Vlad, feeling abandoned and betrayed began to spawn a deep hatred for the Turks and the Hungarians while his brother was evolving into one of them right before his eyes. Vlad was tormented, and from there he began formulating methods of torture and mass murder which he would eventually play out during his 6 year reign as Prince of Wallachia. After years of watching public executions, Vlad Dracula developed the idea that bloodletting displays of gore could manipulate people into fearing him. Meanwhile, he was gaining more and more sadistic pleasure for torture and killing.

Vlad Dracula depiction by JD Malinger

Vlad Dracula depiction by JD Malinger

Dracula Tour in Transylvania

A Murderous Vigilante with a Taste for Blood

He roasted children, whom he fed to their mothers. And (he) cut off the breasts of women, and forced their husbands to eat them. After that, he had them all impaled. -Wikipedia

According to German documents Vlad Dracula was responsible for slaughtering at least 80,000 victims. He also had whole villages and fortresses destroyed and burned to the ground.

Vlad the Impaler

Impalement was Vlad’s favorite method of murder. Several 15th and 16th century German documents depict Vlad feasting in a forest of impaled victims outside of Brasov as a nearby executioner sawed apart the bodies of the dead. It was also reported that an invading Ottoman army was left terrified when they encountered thousands of rotting corpses on the banks of the Danube. Alas, Vlad Dracula’s plan to fear his enemy into submission was beginning to come to fruition.

Vlad Dracula wasn’t a vampire after all. He was however, the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a personal favorite read of mine. Bram Stoker based his character of Count Dracula off Vlad Dracula III and Bran Castle in Transylvania. In comparison of the two I would say Vlad Dracula III may as well have been a vampire. Thoughts?

Do you LOVE Bram Stoker and vampire goodness? Check out Dublin’s Bram Stoker Festival


About Christa Thompson

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Christa Thompson is the Founder and Senior Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. Christa has been traveling the world since 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

21 Comments on this post

  1. Wow, I’ve never heard this version of who Dracula was. I think I like the vampire version better…

    Jewels / Reply
  2. This is a nice summary of some of the facts about Dracula’s history (a bit too colloquial for my taste, but I can live with that), but as far as I know he wasn’t just the human monster you describe. Some years ago I read a most fascinating biography about him. Despite all these evildoings you describe here the book also told tales of how he was still a capable ruler and respected by his subordinates. And especially how he became the ruthless and manipulating man he was.
    I still partly remember one tale in particular, where a salesmen visited his castle and claimed that if he stayed, his goods would not be safe. Dracula then told him to count his money and leave everything on the streets. He assured him that no one would dare to touch the carriage, let alone steal something in his kingdom and in the most unlikely case that something really happened he would make sure that the culprit would be found and punished. The salesman agreed and did as he was told. During the night however he himself did take a few coins away from his money and the next morning claimed that he was robbed. Dracula seeing through the deceit talked the merchant into revealing what he had done and simply did as he had promised: He punished the culprit.

    Anyway, some notes that might be interesting after all: Dracula does not just mean “Son of the Dragon” it also can be translated to “Son of the Devil”, which might be a bit more fitting for him.
    Oh, and The Impaler was impaled himself as his own men mistook him for a foe when he watched a battle from the sidelines.

    In regards to the novelization I think both the real and the fictional Dracula are quite fascinating men and I could probably go on about this even longer, but I’ll stop here and wait for all the other Daily Monsters to appear in my Reader and dream about one day finally visiting Romania… 🙂

    PoiSonPaiNter / Reply
  3. […] A Monster a Day, Vlad Dracula Romania’s Bad Boy […]

    BiGTEAM / Reply
  4. There is no proof whatsoever that Vlad ever lived in Bran Castle. That’s a total tourism construct. Some people say Stoker used Bran Castle as inspiration, but there’s no proof he even know of its existence. Also, there is a lot of dispute about his burial place since no body was found at Snagov. It’s all conjecture and local legend.

    • Seems fitting since the entire premise of this resource is to document places related to folklore, legend and mythology. Sometimes those intersect with history, which is like the stars aligning, and when they do it’s awesome.

      He is a legend, and his country recognizes him as so, in whatever manner that may be. My job is to bring that availability to readers. Documented accounts or not.

  5. Vlad the Impaler is one of my favourite stories! I stumbled upon a documentary about it when I was a kid and instantly became obsessed, having already fallen in love with Stoker’s Dracula. I even remember using it as a base for my speech in grade 8… although that ended with me having a panic attack before starting (ah, the joys of being a shy adolescent).
    It’s a dream of mine to go on one of the Dracula tours – it would bring all of this together for me. hah

    Megan / Reply
  6. Vlad the Impaler is one of my favourite stories! I stumbled upon a documentary about it when I was a kid and instantly became obsessed, having already fallen in love with Stoker’s Dracula. I even remember using it as a base for my speech in grade 8… although that ended with me having a panic attack before starting (ah, the joys of being a shy adolescent).
    It’s a dream of mine to go on one of the Dracula tours – it would bring all of this together for me. hah

    Megan Shier (@meggiekay) / Reply
  7. Hi,

    I am romanian. “Dracul” means “Devil” in romanian, not dragon. “Balaur” means dragon 🙂
    You should visit Bran Castle sometimes and Brasov also 😉

    Best regards!

    curs bnr / Reply
    • Drac means ‘dragon’ in Latin. I think this is where the confusion is commonly made, and perhaps where I should have been more clear… but seeing as how this is a travel blog and not a reference site, I tend not to delve into those details.

      Vlad Dracul was named with the Latin meaning of Vlad Dragon, with the addition of -a meaning ‘son of the dragon’… all ultimately relating to the “Order of the Dragon” which he was tied to by his father Vlad II.

      Drac or Dracul means ‘devil’ in Romanian, it has changed over time at some point, but during the 1400’s it was intended to mean ‘dragon’.

      Thanks for allowing me to clarify that. Here’s a reference if you or anyone would like to check it, http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/drac#Romanian

  8. […] A Monster a Day, Vlad Dracula Romania’s Bad Boy […]

  9. […] story line is about Vlad Dracula before he was used as a basis of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The history of Vlad Dracula is a very gruesome and interesting […]

  10. […] known as Dracula’s Castle, the Bran Castle can be found in Bran, in close proximity to the important city of Brasov. This majestic structure […]

    Superb Places Romania | CRIK / Reply
  11. […] known as Dracula’s Castle, the Bran Castle can be found in Bran, in close proximity to the important city of Brasov. This majestic structure […]

  12. […] known as Dracula’s Castle, the Bran Castle can be found in Bran, in close proximity to the important city of Brasov. This majestic structure […]

  13. […] known as Dracula’s Castle, the Bran Castle can be found in Bran, in close proximity to the important city of Brasov. This majestic structure […]

  14. […] known as , the Bran Castle can be found in Bran, in close proximity to the important city of Brasov. This majestic structure […]

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