Who was the Real Dracula used as Basis of Bram Stoker’s Work?

In the middle ages turbulent times prevailed over Eastern Europe. Hungarian nation was the first line of defence against the Islamic forces of the Ottoman Empire and the individual states placed in the No Man’s land suffered from the unrest. Bram Stoker was inspired to write his famous work “Dracula” based on these times. But which figure of these middle ages inspired Bram Stoker most? Only one name stands out from the rest Dracula.

Vlad Tepes or Vlad III or Dracula

Walachia which is now a part of Romania was a Hungarian province and was ruled by Prince Mircea the Old till the year 1418. Around 1390 Mircea had an illegitimate son named Vlad. He was given to King Sigismund of Hungary to be raised there. When Mircea died Vlad was not given supreme control over Walachia but he was rather appointed a knight in the Order of Dragon. Order of Dragon was a group of fighters set up to defend the Christians against the Turkish rule. Vlad took up the name “Dracul” or “the dragon” and he was made the governor of Transylvania. Dracul went on to have three sons. First was named after his father Mircea, and the next two were Vlad and Radu. Dracul gathered an army and won his family’s seat in Walachia, although he took help of the Turkish for this purpose. Dracul sent Vlad and Radu to live in Adrianople (seat of Ottoman Empire)  as a sign of his loyalty to the Ottoman Empire. But in 1447 Dracul and his eldest son Mircea were killed in a battle and Hungarian government annexed Walachia.

Impalement was the popular process of execution for Dracula

Such a situation was uncomfortable for Ottoman Empire. They decided to wage a war with seventeen year old Vlad at its head. Vlad was known as Dracula or the son of Dragon. Though there was much of swapping of sides in the later battles but in 1456 Dracula reclaimed the throne of Walachia. He built a city named Tirgoviste as his capital and pronounced himself as Prince Vlad III. He knew if he had to survive he would have to be utterly ruthless. After he was crowned the Prince of Walachia he invited the destitute souls residing on the streets to a grand fest to his castle. After the meal he asked the frail, poor and aged if they would like to be without any care and lack nothing in this world? When everyone shouted ‘yes’ he ordered the guards to shut the gates and set the castle on fire. Later he said there was no place in his kingdom for people that would be a burden for the society and everyone who did not contribute to the society would not get any sympathy from Dracula.

Castle at Poenari built by Old dignitaries at Dracula's Court

Dracula went to commit many such killings with Walachia’s top dignitaries too. He ordered the execution of the older members through impalement (penetration within the body with an object such as spear or pole). Other dignitaries were ordered to build a castle at Poenari which was a mountainous area about 50 miles away. In place of these dignitaries Dracula appointed his likeable set of nobles. He was an evil ruler and enjoyed watching people die, after the death the bodies were hosted on sharp poles. His executions caused a terror among the general masses and they named him Vlad Tepes or “Vlad the Impaler”. He murdered fraudulent merchants, cheating wives and anybody thought to have committed a crime. Though impalement was his favourite tool of execution but he also enjoyed skinning and boiling people alive. Children, old people and women everyone was killed by this blood thirsty prince and their bodies were displayed in public to warn the masses. It is said that nearly 20,000 dead bodies hung from the walls of Tirgoviste and at the end of his reign he had killed about 50,000 people.

Dracula's Tomb at Island of Snagov

When Walachia was attacked by the Turks in 1462 Dracula went into exile and Radu was named the next ruler. But after Radu died of syphilis in 1476 and another prince reclaimed the throne of Walachia Dracula tried to return back. Though he succeeded in getting back his rightful throne but he killed in a Turkish attack in December 1476. The Ottoman sultan had Dracula’s head impaled and it was displayed in Constantinople. He was later buried in a island monastery named Snagov.

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2 thoughts on “Who was the Real Dracula used as Basis of Bram Stoker’s Work?

  1. Vlad was named Dracula or Draculea (son of Dracul) but Radu too… How to be sure that Vlad is “the Dracula” of Stoker ? It’s impossible. May be, Radu is the stoker’s vampire…
    Several facts :
    – Stoker says his vampire was high. Vlad was small…
    – How Vlad could became a vampire without his head ?…
    – After Vlad and Radu, many people from this family was named Dracula. So, who is the vampire (s) in this family ? I don’t know…

  2. Personally, I have come to believe that the Dracula character in Bram Stoker’s book was a terrorist or anarchist from central or eastern Europe who had borrowed that name; terrorism and anarchy were common during the time this well known novel first was made available to the public; one of our own US Presidents, William McKinley, was assassinated by an anarchist whose parents were immigrants from central Europe. By reading between the lines in the novel, one can see that methods of operation common to terrorists are rampant. On the other hand, Vlad Tepes, the real Dracula, has been maligned and defamed; he is a patriotic and heroic figure in Romania and …..TEXAS; yes, his case was defended, and won, right here in San Antonio, by yours truly, with the help of numerous relatives and friends. — Cheryl B. Montoya, San Antonio TX. Remember the Alamo, heh, heh!

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