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  1. 30 Aug '14 12:04
    Man More Than Myth


    "Apa trece, pietrele ramin."
    "The water flows, the rocks remain."
    — Old Romanian Proverb



    Bram Stoker (CORBIS)

    Bram Stoker (CORBIS)


    Bram Stoker's Dracula, published in 1897, continues to send shivers down the spine of anyone who reads it. It is dark Gothic at its best, a brilliant, imaginative and can't-put-down work of art. The atmosphere it creates is, in this writer's opinion, spookier than any Stephen King novel.

    But...many people who have read the book are not aware that the character Dracula the vampire is based on was a highborn member of a Romanian court, prominent in European history — and much more terrifying than his fictional descendant. While not the black-cloaked, centuries-old, fanged bloodsucker of literary fame, the infamy of the historical figure outperforms that of Stoker's creation.

    Prince Vlad, or as he was called even in his own time, Dracula (which means "Son of the Dragon" tops the list of Romania's many, many Christian crusaders who, in the transition years between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, fought to keep the Muslim-faithed Ottoman Turks out of their country.

    Odd that a name known for stirring nightmares actually belonged to a crusader of a religious cause!

    Still, Dracula was not a saint. He ruled his military kingdom of Wallachia — southern Romania — with a heavy and blood-soaked fist. To not only the Turks but also to many of his own countrymen he was Vlad The Impaler, Vlad Die Tepes (pronounced Tee-pish). Determined not to be overtaken by the intrigue of an intriguing political underhandedness, in a world in which princes fell daily to smiling, hypocritical "allies," paranoia among the aristocracy was, and probably needed to be, utmost in a sovereign's disposition. Dracula built a defense around him that dared not open kindness nor trust to anyone. During his tenure, he killed by the droves, impaling on a forest of spikes around his castle thousands of subjects who he saw as either traitors, would-be traitors or enemies to the security of Romania and the Roman Catholic Church. Sometimes, he slew merely to show other possible insurgents and criminals just what their fate would be if they became troublesome.



    Vlad Dracula

    Vlad Dracula
    (AP)


    A pamphlet published in Nuremburg, Germany, immediately following his death in 1476, tells of his burning beggars after allowing them free food at his court. "He felt they were eating the people's food for nothing, and could not repay it," the broadside explains. And there are countless of other tales of Dracula's wickedness written down ages ago, many of which will be related in this article.

    But, Vlad Dracula was more than just a medieval despot. Biographers Radu R. Florescu and Raymond T. McNally call him "a man of many faces". He was a politician; a voivode (warrior); an erudite and well-learned gentleman when the occasion-to-be fit; and, as has been indicated, he was a mass murderer. He spoke several languages — Romanian, Turkish, Latin and German — and steeped himself in the use of broadsword and crossbow. He was an equestrian, riding at the head of his attacking army like a Berskerker. At three separate times, Dracula governed Wallachia, one of three Hungarian principalities that later merged with the others — Transylvania (to the north) and Moldavia (to the east) — to become the country of Romania. Because Wallachia, his province, sat directly above the open Danube River Plain, which separated the Ottoman Empire from free Romania, his was the frontal defense against the non- Christian Turks. Despite his cruelties and severe punishments, and because of his seething hatred for anything Turkish, he is considered today a national hero by the populace. Because he died in warfare against the foe, even fought against a brother whom he considered a sell-out to the enemy, he is often upheld as a martyr. Statues stand in his honor, and his birthplace at Sighisoara and resting-place at Snagov are considered almost canonical.

    "Though many Westerners are baffled that a man whose political and military career was as steeped in blood as was that of Vlad Dracula," writes Elizabeth Miller for Journal of the Dark magazine, "the fact remains that for many Romanians he is an icon of heroism...It is this duality that is part of his appeal."

    The adventurous life led by Dracula put him in contact with the era's most fascinating people, among them "White Knight" Jonas Hunyadi, Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus and the ambitious Sultan Mehmed of Turkey. In his lifetime, Dracula witnessed the rising use of gunpowder as a means of destruction, the Holy Crusades, the fall of Constantinople and the nouveau philosophy of art, alchemy and culture that became known as the Renaissance.

    It was no idle choice that the red-bearded Irish novelist Bram Stoker in 1896 chose the factual Impaler as the model for his nosferatu, his "undead" vampire. Although admittedly never having set foot on Romanian soil, having done most of his research at the London Library, it is obvious that the infamous Count Dracula emulates his historical counterpart. Poring over texts such as An Extraordinary and Shocking History of a Great Berserker Called Prince Dracula, The Historie and Superstitions of Romantic Romania and Wilkinson's Account of Wallachia and Moldavia, Stoker chanced upon the tales of Dracula. (It has been suggested by scholars that such histories would be incomplete without generous space attributed to the man.) In the tomes he studied, Stoker assuredly read of the voivode Dracula, whose atrocities trembled the Christian Western World and whose audacity saved it from Allah.

    A few 20th Century authors have denied any connection between the Romanian prince of fact and the bloodthirsty count of fiction, opining that Stoker merely used the rhythmical name he discovered in the pages of old histories. They base their interpretation primarily on two premises. The first is that Stoker's ghoul resides in a castle in the Transylvanian Alps and not in Wallachia's foothills, the better part of some 150 miles. The other is that the vampire is described by Stoker as being of Szekely blood, from a race of people in the "northern country," and not of an older Wallachian stock.

    Other writers, however, recognizing the liberties afforded by literary license, point to the striking similarities that speak very strongly beyond coincidence. Most notable are the references to Count Dracula's past as uttered by the fictional nobleman himself. They paint a history parallel to Vlad Dracula's.

    In the novel, when Jonathan Harker, a British solicitor, visits Dracula's castle in Transylvania for the purpose of closing a real estate deal (the vampire is relocating to London to pursue fresh blood), the count describes the land over which Harker has just journeyed as "ground fought over for centuries by the Wallachian, the Saxon and the Turk...enriched by the blood of men, patriots or invaders."

    In a subsequent chapter, Count Dracula relates to Harker a virtual history of his own royal heritage. "Is it a wonder that we were a conquering race," he asks, "that we were proud; that when the Magyar, the Lombard, the Avar, the Bulgar or the Turk poured his thousands on our frontiers we drove them back?...To us, for centuries, was trusted the guarding of the frontier of Turkeyland; aye, and more than that, endless duty of the frontier guard."

    At one point, Count Dracula alludes to an "ancestor" who "sold his people to the Turk and brought the shame of slavery on them!" Vlad Dracula had such a brother.

    There are other tens of references, actually, throughout the novel that not-too-subtly point to Vlad Dracula as the accurate source — references to particular military campaigns in which he took part, contemporaries with whom he acquainted, and places he visited.

    In summary, had Stoker not taken his character from the crimson cloth of Vlad the Impaler, he then certainly adorned his creation with a cloak colored amazingly close to the same hue.

    Following is the story of the real Dracula, a man who, whether he would have preferred or not, became, in another incarnation, a figure whom the World Index has called, "one of the top ten most recognizable names in the English-speaking world."

    *****
  2. Standard member finnegan
    GENS UNA SUMUS
    30 Aug '14 12:15
    Odd that a name known for stirring nightmares actually belonged to a crusader of a religious cause!
    Not really.
  3. 30 Aug '14 14:45
    Originally posted by whodey
    Man More Than Myth


    "Apa trece, pietrele ramin."
    "The water flows, the rocks remain."
    — Old Romanian Proverb



    Bram Stoker (CORBIS)

    Bram Stoker (CORBIS)


    Bram Stoker's Dracula, published in 1897, continues to send shivers down the spine of anyone who reads it. It is dark Gothic at its best, a brilliant, imaginative and can't-put-down work o ...[text shortened]... has called, "one of the top ten most recognizable names in the English-speaking world."

    *****
    what we learn from romanian history books is that vlad was:

    -cruel. Wallachia was very unstable at that time, he chose to be cruel to gain more temporary control so that he could govern

    -despotic. so was absolutely every monarch in europe at that time, with perhaps the exception of england's king.

    -crusader. make no mistake, he only cared about being the champion of western countries in how much financial aid they were willing to give him (none, as far as i can tell). just like stefan (the great) of moldavia he asked the vatican and the catholic nations for help, he received none or very little. Their main concern was in protecting their countries from invaders, many times agains poland and hungary, their christian "brothers"


    the old romanian proverb refers to how embelishments and trivialities pass, and the important things remaining. i am afraid this is the opposite case here. we lost many facts about vlad and we were left with the perhaps exagerated account of transylvanian german merchants (of which he was an enemy of because of their economic dealings with his country)



    romanians choose turn a blind eye towards his unsavory practices and instead focus on his heroic actions and the fact that he delayed for a few more years the ottomans, possibly preventing wallachia of becoming an otoman province and ensuring its autonomy.


    the post was mostly on point.
  4. 30 Aug '14 14:46 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by whodey
    Man More Than Myth


    "Apa trece, pietrele ramin."
    "The water flows, the rocks remain."
    — Old Romanian Proverb



    Bram Stoker (CORBIS)

    Bram Stoker (CORBIS)


    Bram Stoker's Dracula, published in 1897, continues to send shivers down the spine of anyone who reads it. It is dark Gothic at its best, a brilliant, imaginative and can't-put-down work o ...[text shortened]... has called, "one of the top ten most recognizable names in the English-speaking world."

    *****
    and it's not pronounced teepish.


    try tzepesh. both e sound just like the e in eduard
  5. Standard member shavixmir
    Guppy poo
    30 Aug '14 14:56
    He didn't save Western culture. Perhaps a bit of Romanian culture... but I'm pretty sure he didn't save the Scots from deep fried mars bars and the Scandinavians from depressing literature.
  6. 31 Aug '14 01:14
    Originally posted by Zahlanzi
    what we learn from romanian history books is that vlad was:

    -cruel. Wallachia was very unstable at that time, he chose to be cruel to gain more temporary control so that he could govern

    -despotic. so was absolutely every monarch in europe at that time, with perhaps the exception of england's king.

    -crusader. make no mistake, he only cared about be ...[text shortened]... ia of becoming an otoman province and ensuring its autonomy.


    the post was mostly on point.
    Deserving or not, Vlad is credited with halting the Islamic invaders. He is considered a hero in his country today. The gist being, the Islamic invaders could not match his brutality and fled.

    So if Vlad were alive today, one jihadist beheading might be met with a thousand impalings as they rot away slowly dying.
  7. Standard member wolfgang59
    Infidel
    31 Aug '14 01:26
    Originally posted by whodey

    So if Vlad were alive today, one jihadist beheading might be met with a thousand impalings as they rot away slowly dying.
    You mean he would be in charge of Israeli Foreign Policy?
  8. 31 Aug '14 01:31
    Originally posted by whodey
    Deserving or not, Vlad is credited with halting the Islamic invaders. He is considered a hero in his country today. The gist being, the Islamic invaders could not match his brutality and fled.

    So if Vlad were alive today, one jihadist beheading might be met with a thousand impalings as they rot away slowly dying.
    i am unsure what exactly is your point. he is a controversial historical figure, that ignorant westerners mistake for dracula, the romanians hold as a patriotic leader and don't mind getting money from western tourists because of him.

    so what are we debating here? i thought it was simply an educational thread, meant to state some facts and be done.
  9. 31 Aug '14 02:02 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Zahlanzi
    i am unsure what exactly is your point. he is a controversial historical figure, that ignorant westerners mistake for dracula, the romanians hold as a patriotic leader and don't mind getting money from western tourists because of him.

    so what are we debating here? i thought it was simply an educational thread, meant to state some facts and be done.
    It does seem odd that, on the one hand, Vlad is a national hero of sorts, but on the other hand, he is portrayed as the evil Count Dracula.

    Now let's compare him to an even more brutal fellow, Joseph Stalin. Stalin has perhaps more blood on his hands than anyone in human history. Would he be considered a national hero? I don't get that vibe. He is more of a national disgrace, yet no one made him into a villain like Vlad.
  10. 31 Aug '14 02:04
    Originally posted by shavixmir
    He didn't save Western culture. Perhaps a bit of Romanian culture... but I'm pretty sure he didn't save the Scots from deep fried mars bars and the Scandinavians from depressing literature.
    If Vlad had not stopped the Muslim conquests, who would have?
  11. 31 Aug '14 02:35
    Originally posted by whodey
    It does seem odd that, on the one hand, Vlad is a national hero of sorts, but on the other hand, he is portrayed as the evil Count Dracula.

    Now let's compare him to an even more brutal fellow, Joseph Stalin. Stalin has perhaps more blood on his hands than anyone in human history. Would he be considered a national hero? I don't get that vibe. He is more of a national disgrace, yet no one made him into a villain like Vlad.
    no it is not odd.

    every historical figure gets this treatment.


    do you believe thomas jefferson was a great statesman? or was he a slave owner who raped his women slaves? we each see what we believe is more important.

    stalin was already a villain, every million of lives he took is well documented. there is no mysticism involved. there was no irish writer inventing a creature of the night myth about him.
  12. 31 Aug '14 02:43 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Zahlanzi
    no it is not odd.

    every historical figure gets this treatment.


    do you believe thomas jefferson was a great statesman? or was he a slave owner who raped his women slaves? we each see what we believe is more important.

    stalin was already a villain, every million of lives he took is well documented. there is no mysticism involved. there was no irish writer inventing a creature of the night myth about him.
    Usually those who are vanquished go down in history as "bad guys", as where those who are victorious and successful, come out as "good guys".

    So if the Founders had lost the Revolution, Jefferson would have been hung along side his friends and gone down in history only as a slave owner who raped black women.

    Conversely, Stalin and Vlad were victorious in their attempts to quell their adversaries. However, one is now seen as a hero, but the other an evil scoundrel.
  13. Subscriber AThousandYoung
    Poor Filipov :,(
    31 Aug '14 17:18 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by whodey
    If Vlad had not stopped the Muslim conquests, who would have?
    Spain

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Siege_of_Malta

    The Great Siege of Malta took place in 1565 when the Ottoman Empire invaded the island of Malta, then held by the Knights Hospitaller. The Knights, with about 400 Maltese men, women and children and approximately 2,000 footsoldiers, won the siege which became one of the most celebrated events in sixteenth-century Europe. Voltaire said, "Nothing is better known than the siege of Malta," and it undoubtedly contributed to the eventual erosion of the European perception of Ottoman invincibility and marked a new phase in Spanish domination of the Mediterranean.
  14. 31 Aug '14 17:54
    Originally posted by AThousandYoung
    Spain

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Siege_of_Malta

    The Great Siege of Malta took place in 1565 when the Ottoman Empire invaded the island of Malta, then held by the Knights Hospitaller. The Knights, with about 400 Maltese men, women and children and approximately 2,000 footsoldiers, won the siege which became one of the most celebrat ...[text shortened]... Ottoman invincibility and marked a new phase in Spanish domination of the Mediterranean.
    It seems there is always a backstop. Eventually, all imperialists get too strung out from their home base and falter.
  15. Standard member shavixmir
    Guppy poo
    31 Aug '14 17:55
    Originally posted by whodey
    If Vlad had not stopped the Muslim conquests, who would have?
    The Austrians. Who actually did....