History of Dracula – Why Bram Stoker chose Transylvania
Noble, owner of a great castle located on top of a mountain surrounded by steep cliffs, Dracula turns out to actually be a vampire very feared by the inhabitants of the surrounding villages. Terrifying, blood lover with a dual nature, aware of his noble lineage, Count Dracula managed to enter the minds of many generations of readers, being a highly controversial character.
But why the name Dracula? And why exactly Transylvania was chosen as the place of vampires and terror? Few people know that before writing the novel, Bram Stoker spent several years researching the European folklore and thus came to know Romania, where he found exactly what he wanted.
Romania was still little known to foreigners, a mostly rural country with a strong faith in creatures of the night, bloodsuckers and immortals, a country that still preserved alive the memory of one of the most feared leaders, Vlad the Impaler. Although there is not a clear connection between Dracula and Vlad the Impaler, the two are bound both by name and reputation.
Vlad the Impaler’s father, Vlad II, received from the King of Hungary, as a reward for bravery in battles against the Turks, a knighthood in the Order of the Dragon. Dragon in Romanian perception was often linked to the devil, drac in the Romanian language. So Vlad II was named Vlad Dracul (the Drake) and his son was named Draculea, meaning the son of the devil. The Impaler name was added later, due to the ferocity with which he punished all those who committed crimes of stealing, adultery, murder or cheating. His methods of punishment were so cruel and bloody that Vlad the Impaler has remained in people’s mind as a fair leader but blood lover, cruel and merciless.
Thus, the famous Count, which Bram Stoker initial named Count Vampyr, became Dracula from Romania. And because every count has a castle, the writer got inspired by the mysterious appearance of the stately, medieval Bran castle from Transylvania, perfectly situated on a steep cliff, dominating the surroundings. And so, Count Dracula got to be known as Dracula of Transylvania, becoming dracul-esqe all the places historical related to the life of Vlad the Impaler. The history of Dracula however, is a living history, further fuelled by the strong superstitions of the Romanian people in vampires, moroi (souls of unbaptized people), werewolves and poltergeists.
Dracula in Transylvania became the most representative image of this rich and authentic folklore, a true ambassador of all the Carpathians vampires, a Romanian vampire with Irish roots.