Friday, June 24, 2016

The Real Dracula – A Saint in his Homeland


If you ever happen to go to the resting place of Vlad III in Snagov, Romania, one must tread lightly as to not offend the saintly deference the sight is given.  Statues of this iconic medieval prince are in no short supply either. Almost 600 years later and to the world over, old Vlad goes by another name that puts him in an entirely different light – Dracula.

It seems pretty clear that Brahm Stoker based his character on Vlad III Dracul (order of the Dragon – a military Christian order). He would go onto slaughter around 100,000 of his enemies in his two decade long reign of Wallachia beginning in the 1450s and mostly by his preferred method – impalement. 

Thus, his historical moniker, Vlad the Impaler, and if you’re not up on medieval forms of torture, that means driving a wooden or metal spike into the rectum and having it exit through the mouth. And to heighten the drama for any dissenters, the stake was driven vertically into the ground with death slowly occurring over a period of hours or even days. 

The suffering unimaginable, for Romanians to consider this main a saint, they must be really bad people. Either that, or when Stoker based Dracula on William Wilkerson’s, An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, he forgot his reading glasses or something.

I would chalk it up to far more straight forward explanation of human nature and societies.  Everybody loves a winner – especially when he’s on your team.

Born in 1431, the son of Vlad II fell into Ottoman hands with his older brother and father.  Ultimately, left behind with his brother as part of his father’s terms of release, Dracul was tutored in science, philosophy and the arts. He was also probably tortured and endured the blinding and live burial of his brother. As such, the blood curdling aspects of his life certainly seem to have an impetus.

Nonetheless, the ruthlessness that would emerge served Christian Europe well in the wake of the fall of Constantinople in 1453. The ever expanding Ottoman Empire seeking to overrun Europe in the Dark Ages, Wallachia stood squarely in between, and Vlad was charged as the first line of defense in 1456. 

Victorious, legend says he settled the Ottoman surge by personally defeating its leader in a one on one combat that separated Vladislav II from his neck. 

Vlad’s merciless exploits against Muslim forces over the next two decades were extolled throughout the continent and by Pope Pius II himself. But all good things came to an end in 1476 when Vlad was ambushed and killed by Ottoman forces. Only fitting, Dracul’s head was delivered to Sultan Mehmed II and displayed above the city gates of Constantinople. 

The spoils of war made readily apparent to this sinner/saint, it goes to show the fine line between hero and historical villain and depends on the side the story is told from. That is until it bites you on the neck

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