.. ged in various geometric patterns. The most common pattern was a ring of concentric circles in the outskirts of a city that was his target. The height of the spear indicated the rank of the victim. The decaying corpses were often left up for months.
It was reported (Florescu and McNally) that an invading Turkish army turned back in fright when it encountered thousands of rotting corpses impaled on the banks of the Danube. In 1461 Mohammed II, the conqueror of Constantinople, a man not noted for his squeamishness, returned to Constantinople after being sickened by the sight of twenty thousand impaled corpses outside of Dracula’s capital of Targoviste. The warrior sultan turned command of the campaign against Dracula over to subordinates and returned to Constantinople. .Thousands were often impaled at a single time. Ten thousand were impaled in the Transylvanian city of Sibiu (where Dracula had once lived) in 1460.
In 1459, on St. Bartholomew’s Day, Dracula had thirty thousand of the merchants and boyars of the Transylvanian city of Brasov impaled. One of the most famous woodcuts of the period shows Dracula feasting amongst a forest of stakes and their grisly burdens outside Brasov while a nearby executioner cuts apart other victims. .Impalement was Dracula’s favorite but by no means his only method of torture. The list of tortures employed by this cruel prince reads like an inventory of Hell’s tools: nails in heads, cutting off of limbs, blinding, strangulation, burning, cutting off of noses, tongues and ears, mutilation of sexual organs (especially in the case of women), scalping, skinning, exposure to the elements or to wild animals and boiling alive. .No one was immune to Dracula’s attentions.
His victims included women and children, peasants and great lords, ambassadors from foreign powers and merchants. However, the vast majority of his victims came from the merchants and boyars of Transylvania and his own Wallachia. Many have attempted to justify Dracula’s actions on the basis of nascent nationalism and political necessity. Many of the merchants in Transylvania and Wallachia were Saxons who were seen as parasites, preying upon Romanian natives of Wallachia, while the boyars had proven their disloyalty time and time again. Dracula’s own father and older brother were murdered by unfaithful boyars.
However, many of Dracula’s victims were Wallachians and few deny that he derived a perverted pleasure from his actions. .Dracula began his reign of terror almost as soon as he came to power. His first significant act of cruelty may have been motivated by a desire of revenge as well as a need to solidify his power. Early in his main reign he gave a feast for his boyars and their families to celebrate Easter. Dracula was well aware that many of these same nobles were part of the conspiracy that led to his father’s assassination and the burying alive of his elder brother, Mircea. Many had also played a role in the overthrow of numerous Wallachian princes. During the feast Dracula asked his noble guests how many princes had ruled during their life times. (Florescu Prince of Many Faces 96) All of the nobles present had out lived several princes.
One answered that at least thirty princes had held the throne during his life. None had seen less than seven reigns. Dracula immediately had all the assembled nobles arrested. The older boyars and their families were impaled on the spot. The younger and healthier nobles and their families were marched north from Targoviste to the ruins of a castle in the mountains above the Arges River.
Dracula was determined to rebuild this ancient fortress as his own stronghold and refuge. The enslaved boyars and their families were forced to labor for months rebuilding the old castle with materials from another nearby ruin. They labored until the clothes fell off their bodies and then were forced to continue working naked.(240) Very few of the old gentry survived the ordeal of building Castle Dracula. .Throughout his reign Dracula systematically eradicated the old boyar class of Wallachia. The old boyars had repeatedly undermined the power of the prince during previous reigns and had been responsible for the violent overthrow of several princes. Apparently Dracula was determined that his own power be on a modern and thoroughly secure footing.
In the place of the executed boyars Dracula promoted new men from among the free peasantry and middle class; men who would be loyal only to their prince. Many of Dracula’s acts of cruelty can be interpreted as efforts to strengthen and modernize the central government at the expense of the feudal powers of nobility and great towns. .Dracula was also constantly on guard against the adherents of the Danesti clan. Some of his raids into Transylvania may have been efforts to capture would-be princes of the Danesti. Several members of the Danesti clan died at Dracula’s hands.
Vladislav II was murdered soon after Dracula came to power in 1456. Another Danesti prince was captured during one of Dracula’s forays into Transylvania. Thousands of citizens of the town that had sheltered his rival were impaled by Dracula. The captured Danesti prince was forced to read his own funeral oration while kneeling before an open grave before his execution. .Dracula’s atrocities against the people of Wallachia were usually attempts to enforce his own moral code upon his county. He appears to have been particularly concerned with female chastity.
Maidens who lost their virginity, adulterous wives and unchaste widows were all targets of Dracula’s cruelty. Such women often had their sexual organs cut out or their breasts cut off. They were also often impaled through the vagina on red-hot stakes that were forced through the body until they emerged from the mouth. One report tells of the execution of an unfaithful wife. Dracula had the woman’s breasts cut off, then she was skinned and impaled in a square in Targoviste with her skin lying on a nearby table. Dracula also insisted that his people be honest and hard working.
Merchants who cheated their customers were likely to find themselves mounted on a stake beside common thieves. . Much of the information we have about Vlad III comes from pamphlets published in Germany and Russia after his death. The German pamphlets appeared shortly after Dracula’s death and, at least initially, may have been politically inspired. At that time Mathyas Corvinus of Hungary was seeking to bolster his own reputation in the Holy Roman Empire and may have intended the early pamphlets as justification of his less than vigorous support of his vassal.
The pamphlets were also a form of mass entertainment in a society where the printing press was just coming into widespread use.(Treptow 7) Much like the subject matter of the supermarket tabloids of today, the cruel life of the Wallachian tyrant was easily sensationalized. The pamphlets were reprinted numerous times over the thirty or so years following Dracula’s death – strong proof of their popularity. .The German pamphlets painted Dracula as an inhuman monster who terrorized the land and butchered innocents with sadistic glee. The Russian pamphlets took a somewhat different view. The princes of Moscow were at the time just beginning to build the basis of what would become the autocracy of the czars. They were also having considerable trouble with disloyal, often troublesome boyars.
In Russia, Dracula was presented as a cruel but just prince whose actions were directed toward the greater good of his people. Despite the differences in interpretation the pamphlets, regardless of their land of origin, agree remarkably well as to specifics. The level of agreement between that various pamphlets has led most historians to conclude that at least the broad outlines of the events covered actually occurred.(Teptow 9) .Legends and tales concerning the Impaler have remained a part of folklore among the Romanian peasantry. These tales have been passed down from generation to generation for five hundred years. Through constant retelling they have become somewhat garbled and confused and they are gradually being forgotten by the younger generations. However, they still provide valuable information about Dracula and his relationship with his people.
Many of the tales are also found in the verbal tradition, though with a somewhat different emphasis. Among the Romanian peasantry Dracula is remembered as a just prince who defended his people from foreigners, whether those foreigners be Turkish invaders or German merchants. He is also remembered as somewhat of a champion of the common man against the oppression of the boyars. Dracula’s fierce insistence on honesty is a central part of the verbal tradition. Many of the tales contained in the pamphlets and in the verbal tradition demonstrate the prince’s efforts to eliminate crime and dishonesty from his domain. However, despite the more positive interpretation, the Romanian verbal tradition also remembers Dracula as an exceptionally cruel and often capricious ruler.
.There are several events that are common, regardless of their nation of origin. Many of these events are also found in the Romanian verbal tradition. Specific details may vary among the different versions of these anecdotes but the general coarse of events usually agrees to a remarkable extent. The nature of their offense against the Prince also varies from version to version. However, all versions agree that Dracula, in response to some real or imagined insult, had their hats nailed to their heads.
Some of the sources view Dracula’s actions as justified, others view his acts as crimes of wanton and senseless cruelty. There are about nine anecdotes that are almost universal in the Dracula literature (frome Treptows Essays). 1.The Golden Cup Dracula was known throughout his land for his fierce insistence on honesty and order. Thieves seldom dared practice their trade within Dracula’s domain – they knew that the stake awaited any who were caught. Dracula was so confident in the effectiveness of his law that he placed a golden cup on display in the central square of Targoviste.
The cup was never stolen and remained entirely unmolested throughout Dracula’s reign. (Treptow 42) 2.The Foreign Merchant. A merchant from a foreign land once visited Dracula’s capital of Targoviste. Aware of the reputation of Dracula’s land for honesty, he left a treasure-laden cart unguarded in the street over night. Returning to his wagon in the morning, the merchant was shocked to find 160 golden ducats missing. When the merchant complained of his loss to the prince, Dracula assured him that his money would be returned and invited him to remain in the palace that night.
Dracula then issued a proclamation to the city – find the thief and return the money or the city will be destroyed. During the night he ordered that 160 ducats plus one extra be taken from his own treasury and placed in the merchant’s cart. On returning to his cart in the morning and counting his money the merchant discovered the extra ducat. The merchant returned to Dracula and reported that his money had indeed been returned plus an extra ducat. Meanwhile the thief had been captured and turned over to the prince’s guards along with the stolen money. Dracula ordered the thief impaled and informed the merchant that if he had not reported the extra ducat he would have been impaled alongside the thief. (Treptow 49) 3.The Two Monks In some the two monks were from a Catholic monastery in Wallachia or wandering Catholic monks from a foreign land.
In either case Catholic monks would be viewed as representatives of a foreign power by Dracula. In other versions of the story the monks were from a Romanian Orthodox establishment (the native church of Wallachia). Dracula’s motivation also varies considerably among the different versions of the story. All versions of the story agree that two monks visited Dracula in his palace at Targoviste. Curious to see the reaction of the churchman, Dracula showed them rows of impaled corpses in the courtyard. When asked their opinions of his actions by the prince, one of the monks responded, ‘You are appointed by God to punish evil-doers.’ The other monk had the moral courage to condemn the cruel prince. In the version of the story most common in the German pamphlets, Dracula rewarded the sycophantic monk and impaled the honest monk. (Treptow 62) In the version found in Russian pamphlets and in Romanian verbal tradition Dracula rewarded the honest monk for his integrity and courage and impaled the sycophant for his dishonesty.(Treptow 63) 4.The Polish Nobleman Benedict de Boithor.
A Polish nobleman in the service of the King of Hungary, visited Dracula at Targoviste in September of 1458. At dinner one evening Dracula ordered a golden spear brought and set up directly in from of the royal envoy. Dracula then asked the envoy why he thought this spear had been set up. Benedict replied that he imagined that some boyar had offended the prince and that Dracula intended to honor him. Dracula then responded that he had, in fact, had the spear set up in the honor of his noble, Polish guest. The Pole then responded that had he done anything to deserve death that Dracula should do as he thought best. He further asserted that in that case Dracula would not be responsible for his own death, rather he would be responsible for his own death for incurring the displeasure of the prince. Dracula was greatly pleased by this answer and showered the man with gifts while declaring that had he answered in any other manner he would have been immediately impaled.
(Treptow 65) 5.The Foreign Ambassadors There are at least two versions of this story in the literature. As with the story of the two monks, one version is common in the German pamphlets and views Dracula’s actions unfavorably while the other version is common in Eastern Europe and sees Dracula’s actions in a much more favorable light. In both versions ambassadors of a foreign power visit Dracula’s court at Targoviste. When granted an audience with the prince the envoys refused to remove their hats as was the custom when in the presence of the prince in Wallachia. Angered at this sign of disrespect Dracula had the ambassadors’ hats nailed to their heads so that they might never remove them.
(Treptow 69) . 6.Dracula’s Mistress Dracula once had a mistress who lived in a house in the back streets of Targoviste. This woman apparently loved the prince to distraction and was always anxious to please him. Dracula was often moody and depressed and the woman made every effort to lighten her lover’s burdens. Once, when Dracula was particularly depressed, the woman dared tell him a lie in an effort to cheer him up; she told him that she was with child. Dracula warned the woman not to joke about such matters but she insisted on the truth of her claim despite her knowledge of the prince’s feelings about dishonesty.
Dracula had the woman examined by the bath matrons to determine the veracity of her claim. When informed that the woman was lying Dracula drew his knife and cut her open from the groin to her breasts while proclaiming his desire for the world to see where he had been. Dracula then left the woman to die in agony. (Treptow 81) 7.The Lazy Woman Dracula once noticed a man working in the fields while wearing a too short caftan. The prince stopped and asked the man whether or not he had a wife.
When the man answered in the affirmative Dracula had the woman brought before him and asked her how she spent her days. The poor, frightened woman stated that she spent her days washing, baking and sewing. The prince pointed out her husband’s short caftan as evidence of her laziness and dishonesty and ordered her impaled despite her husband’s protestations that he was well satisfied with his wife. Dracula then ordered another woman to marry the peasant but admonished her to work hard or she would suffer her predecessor’s fate. (Treptow 88) 8.The Nobleman with the Keen Sense of Smell On St. Bartholomew’s Day in 1459 Dracula caused thirty thousand of the merchants and nobles of the Transylvanian city of Brasov to be impaled.
In order that he might better enjoy the results of his orders, the prince commanded that his table be set up and that his boyars join him for a feast amongst the forest of impaled corpses. While dining, Dracula noticed that one of his boyars was holding his nose in an effort to alleviate the terrible smell of clotting blood and emptied bowels. Dracula then ordered the sensitive nobleman impaled on a stake higher than all the rest so that he might be above the stench. (Treptow 97) In another version of this story (Treptow 103) the sensitive nobleman is an envoy of the Transylvanian cities of Brasov and Sibiu sent to appeal to the cruel Wallachian to spare those cities. While hearing the nobleman’s appeal Dracula walked amongst the stakes and their grisly burdens. Some of the victims still lived.
Nearly overcome by the smell of drying blood and human wastes the nobleman asked the prince why he walked amidst the awful stench. Dracula then asked the envoy if he found the stench oppressive. The envoy, seeing an opportunity to ingratiate himself with Dracula, responded that his only concern was for the health and welfare of the prince. Dracula, angered at the nobleman’s dishonesty ordered him impaled on the spot on a very high stake so that he might be above the offending odors. 9.The Burning of the Sick and Poor Dracula was very concerned that all his subjects work and contribute to the common welfare.
He once noticed that the poor, vagrants, beggars and cripples had become very numerous in his land. Consequently, he issued an invitation to all the poor and sick in Wallachia to come to Targoviste for a great feast, claiming that no one should go hungry in his land. As the poor and crippled arrived in the city they were ushered into a great hall where a fabulous feast was prepared fore them. The princes guests ate and drank late into the night, When Dracula himself made an appearance. What else do you desire? Do you want to be without cares, lacking nothing in this world,(Treptow 115) asked the prince. When they responded positively Dracula ordered the hall boarded up and set on fire.
None escaped the flames. Dracula explained his action to the boyars by claiming that he did this, ‘in order that they represent no further burden to other men so that no one will be poor in my realm. (Treptow 112) There is no doubt whatsoever that interest in Vlad Dracula in the West is directly connected with the popularity of Stoker’s novel (both the book itself and its offspring). Yet Vlad is much more than just the historical figure whose name was appropriated for the world’s most famous literary vampire. He is a significant figure in Romanian history. the real Vlad tepes who we know by his deeds hold a place of honour (Stoicescu 179) Though many Westerners are baffled that a man whose political and military career was as steeped in blood as was that of Vlad Dracula, the fact remains that for many Romanians he is an icon of heroism and national pride.
It is this duality that is part of his appeal. Bibliography Works Cited Andreescu, Stefan. Vlad the Impaler : Dracula. 1978 Augustyn, Michael. Vlad Dracula: The Dragon Prince.
1995 Brokaw, Kurt. A Night in Transylvania. 1972 Eminescu, Mihai. The Third Letter. 1881 Florescu, Radu & Raymond McNally.
In Search of Dracula. 1972. Rev Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994. Florescu, Radu & Raymond McNally. Dracula: Prince of Many Faces. 1989.
Florescu, Radu. A Biography of Vlad the Impaler 1431 1476. 1982 Myles, Douglas. Prince Dracula: Prince of the Devil. 1988 Rogez, Viorica. Vlad, Fiul Dracului. 1940 Stoicescu, Nicolae.
Vlad Tepes. 1976 Stoian, Emil. Vlad Tepes: The Real History. 1968 Treptow, Kurt W. Dracula : Essays on the Life and Times of Vlad Tepes.
1963 Tamas, Andrei. Transylvania Legend. http://members.aol.com/atamas/transylvania.htm Wilkinson, William. Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia : With Various Political Observations Relating to Them. 1971 Biographies.