And thanks to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, western imaginations – mine included – fly into vampire overdrive.
And there’s a lot to let fly.
Set amid the Carpathian mountains of northern Romania, Transylvania heaves peaks and dense forests, a land of fairy-tale towns and Gothic castles.
A fantastical place where anything might happen.
Stoker’s vampire story is obviously fictional.
But did you know the name Dracula is real and rooted in history?
They derived the name Dracula from “Dragon”
Dracula’s birth name was Vlad III of Wallachia.
And King Vlad belonged to the Order of the Dragon, a medieval European group who defended Christianity from the advancing Muslim armies of the Ottoman Turks.
While it’s debated, many believe Bram Stoker’s novel to be inspired – in part – by this Vlad guy ¹.
Yes, there’s the view of Vlad as a hero defending his country.
But also he’s infamous.
Remembered as Vlad Tepes – ‘Vlad the Impaler’ was born in Transylvania
One of history’s nastiest nasties.
Why was Vlad so bad?
He was really twisted.
It is said that “Vlad the Impaler” murdered – mainly by impaling – 40,000 to 100,000 people (including political rivals, criminals and anyone he considered “useless to humanity”).
Add to this Turkish invaders, in which he amassed another 100,000 victims.
OK, Medieval mass murder.
No surprises. Genghis Khan did pretty damn well too (and if we get into 20th century tyrants well, the prizes to hand out are staggering). But anyway, back to Dracula.
IMPALING … is really evil.
Meaning: Insert and push a long stake into a victim’s rectum, and up thru their guts – missing vital organs; so you don’t kill them immediately, exiting the stake out of their mouth. Ensuring an agonizing, slow death.
Displayed like a spit-roast skewed pig.
Maybe that’s where the stake thru the heart to kill a vampire idea came for Stoker’s novel? Who knows?
Well, what can I say: Humanity has a deep evil psyche, that’s too often expressed.
But fear not friends – Transylvania is not spooky.
The only blood-suckers I saw – were mosquitoes.
¹ Despite being the most widely known vampire novel, Dracula was not the first. That it was preceded and partly inspired by Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1871 “Carmilla“, about a lesbian vampire who preys on a lonely young woman.
This was probably based on Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who tortured and killed – wild estimates range from 36 to 700 young women. She bathed in their blood, believing it preserved her youth.