What is the origin of Count Dracula

Count Dracula - Truth or Legend?

Vampires - these are the undead who leave their graves to hunt for human blood. For a long time there has been a myth about blood-sucking beings who lie frozen and motionless in their coffins during the day, only to "wake up to life" after sunset. The most famous vampire figure is the infamous Count Dracula. Bram Stoker wrote the horror novel in 1897. But did this eerie count really exist? In fact, the novel was based on a cruel prince who ruled Wallachia in what is now Romania in the 15th century. And the real story is as bloodthirsty as the legend.

There are divergent ideas about vampires, but mostly they are characters who leave their graves at nightfall and feed on human blood. Legend has it that these creatures can be destroyed by piercing their bodies with a stake. Other myths say that vampires are banned by crosses and driven away by garlic. Already in the Middle Ages similar legends of the undead were created in different parts of the world. The image of the vampire that is widespread today was probably created around 1600 in Eastern Europe.

The popular belief of vampires was probably created to give a name to catastrophes, serious illnesses or inexplicable things - and to find someone responsible. At that time, many people were affected by hunger, bad harvests, disease and poverty. Time and again people died from sudden epidemics. In the early modern period in particular, many cases of vampire were reported: Completely unexpectedly, residents of a village fell seriously ill and died. They are said to have reported about "undead beings" that haunted them during the night. There were even real vampire trials in the past. People who were exposed as "vampires" are said to have been sentenced to death and cruelly impaled.

Count Dracula - the most famous of all vampires

The most famous vampire figure is the infamous "Count Dracula". There are many scary stories about him, he appears in countless films - and hardly anyone has heard of the scary count. In the novel, a lawyer travels to a count's castle in the middle of the Southern Carpathians on business matters.

Even the outward appearance of the host with his pale skin, red lips and conspicuously sharp teeth is eerie. The young man soon feels uncomfortable. Something is wrong in the castle. He notices that the Count has no reflection and that he reacts strangely different when he sees blood ...

Abraham "Bram" Stoker wrote the horror novel "Dracula" in 1897. With his work a legend was finally born: the story of the famous vampire was repeatedly filmed and reinterpreted, and Dracula's image was shaped. Sometimes the count was just the "monstrous beast", sometimes he was also a tragic figure who was given human traits. Famous Dracula actors were Christopher Lee and Gray Oldman, who played the main character in Coppola's horror film "Bram Stoker's Dracula" in 1992. Roman Polanski, on the other hand, shot "Tanz der Vampire", a horror parody in 1967, which contains many humorous elements. A true vampire cult had emerged.

The creation of the Transylvanian undead

The writer Bram Stoker dealt intensively with mystical things, magic and vampire legends. He studied the legends and passed down stories of the blood-sucking undead. He was a member of an occult community in London. The Latin word "occultus" means "hidden", occultism deals with magic and mysticism. But who was Dracula anyway? Is it true that he really should have lived? Or is it a pure invention of the Irish writer? Even before Bram Stoker - in the Romantic Age (1795-1848) - many vampire stories were written. Various figures and myths thus served the Irish as models for his "Dracula".

But Bram Stoker had come across a certain person who decisively inspired him when creating his dreaded fictional character: Prince Vlad III. Draculea (1431-1476). At the time of the late Middle Ages he ruled over Wallachia, a principality in what is now Romania. Stoker's story takes place in Transylvania (German: Siebenbürgen). This legendary region of Romania was the home of Vlad III at the time. Draculea. The true story of the prince is as bloodthirsty as the vampire legend. Vlad III. is said to have been notorious for its cruelty.

Vlad III. Draculea - a bloodthirsty ruler

The prince's father was Vlad II. Dracul (Draculea means "Son of Dracul ") and was a Knight of the Dragon Order - which is probably why he bears his nickname. The Latin term" draco "means" dragon ". Dracul "also means" the devil "in Romanian. So Draculea could also be translated as" son of the devil. "His mother was Princess Cneajna of Transylvania.

In the fight against the Turks, Hungarians and against lawbreakers Vlad III. brutal and ruthless. He is said to have staked countless of his enemies - that is, impaled them alive on stakes. The people then had to die slowly and in agony. That is why he is nicknamed Vlad "Tepes", which means "the impaler". Draculea and his followers were eventually captured by the Turks. The prince was beheaded around 1476/77; his head is said to have been brought to Constantinople.

Outwardly, the dreaded ruler has little in common with Stoker's Dracula. The writer is said to have oriented himself more towards the well-known Shakespeare actor Henry Irving, with whom he had a long friendship. Vlad III. is described as a brutal looking man with long black curly hair and angular features. Actually, however, one imagines Dracula as an older gentleman with a pale face and gray hair.

Many horror legends about "Vlad the Impaler"

Other myths say that Vlad Draculea drank the blood of his victims and that his corpse has disappeared to this day. The grave in Snagov, Romania was opened in 1931 - and in fact no remains were found. However, it is still not known whether it is the right burial place for the prince. In Romania many places have meanwhile been turned into "tourist attractions" that have little to do with the former ruler Vlad III. Draculea have to do.

Bran Castle in the Transylvanian district of Brasov, for example, is repeatedly presented as the legendary Dracula's castle. The imposing looking old walls really resemble the description of the horror novel. It is assumed, however, that Prince Vlad III. never entered this castle. The historic city of Sighisoara (German: Schässburg) in Romania is known as the birthplace of the cruel prince. While this is considered likely, there is no clear evidence that Vlad III. Draculea was born in Schässburg.