Vlad Tepes

What's the origin of the name Dracula?

Source: Stefan Andreescu, "The truth about Vlad Tepes",
Romanian Bussines Journal, 1996

The name of his father, Vlad Dracul (Vlad the
Devil) was given by him by a knight of the "Order of the
Dragon", founded by the Emperor Sigismund of
Luxembourg. The order had 24 members and was
founded to fight against heretics and unbelievers. The
order's members wore a golden necklace with the
dragon emblem. The necklace was received by Vlad
Tepes' father in 1431 at Numberg,

Portrait of the prince
There is also a written portrait made by a papal messenger, Nicolo de Modrusa, who writes that Vlad in 1463 at Buda, when he was a prisoner of Matei Corvin, that: "He was not tall in his statue, but very sturdy and strong, with a cruel and frightening look, with a big, hooked nose, large nostrils, thin chin, long lashes on his green wide and open eyes, and his black and bushy eyebrows showed him a menacing man; his face and chin were shaved, except for the moustache. The inflated temples increased the volume of the head, his neck as a bull's neck, linked the high nape to the strong shoulders, over which black and curly
locks were falling," He ruled much too short during those six years and the evidence we have is rather sketchy, but he was a clear advocate of strengthening the attributes of the ruler, as he maybe thought from the beginning of the great confrontations ahead of him with the Ottomans. During the first years of his.rule, he paid tribute in money and soldiers to the Turks, like Stefan cel Mare did. But
Vlad Tepes had a clear political thinking, and acted firmly to strengthen his authority as well as the economy of the Tarii Romanesti, replenish it to generate resources necessary to the further battles with the Ottomans.
Vlad Tepes contributed to the preservation of the state of Tara Romaneasca. Mihai Eminescu the Romanian poet knew the stories about Tepes that is why he said those famous words: "Where are you Tepes Voyvode?" When Venice observers and papal messengers reported about Vlad's efforts on the downstream Danube, they regarded his success with hope. Besides, the expedition of Matei Corvin supporting Vlad was expected to turn into a larger crusade.
Vlad Tepes also enjoyed a certain respect in the Ottoman Empire, as there are Ottoman chronicles which recorded some of his actions from the legends about him. The very fact that the Turks had taken over his nickname, "Kazyclyi", which means Tepes, is a sign he was a respected enemy without any doubt. Among Romanian Princes, Vlad Tepes holds a special place with his legendary place, always mysterious and inviting to new investigations, The hero of horror movies, Dracula, is an uninspired attempt to present to the public the strong personality of the genuine Romanian Prince.

Bran -bird view

Bran Castle

The Sun Herald placed Bran Castle as the number 1 Monster Hangout destination in the world.
"This region of western Romania has Bram Stoker to thank for its reputation as the home of creatures of the night. Ever since Stoker decided that chief vampire Count Dracula lived in the region, the area has become synonymous with horror and the living dead. The locals insist that garlic and wooden stakes are not necessary, however, pointing out that it is one of the most beautiful regions in Europe."

Bran Castle

Dracula's Castle
498, Traian Mosoiu St, Bran
http://www.brancastlemuseum.ro

Dracula's Castle is situated between Bucegi and Piatra Craiului Mountains, right where you enter Rucar-Bran Pass. It is the same with Bran Castle.
History
The first documentary attestation of Bran Castle is the letter written in 1377 by the Hungarian Ludovic I D'Anjou, giving the inhabitants of Brasov some privileges.

At the end of the 14th century, king Sigismund gave up the leadership of Bran Fortress in favor of Mircea cel Batran. The royal domain had been given to the Hungarian aristocracy, while the fortress passed under the rule of Mircea's faithful boyars. Few years later, the Hungarian king got back the fortress. Bran Fortress was subordinated to the authority of Szeklers Committee.

The Fortress had an essential role in protecting the Hungarian king from the Ottomans and Tartars' invasion, coming from Wallachia through Rucar Pass. That's the reason why the inhabitants of Brasov built the Castle on their own work and expenses.

Iancu de Hunedoara fortified Transylvania's borders and also the towers of the Bran Castle. He made sure the rights of the peasants were respected by the boyars who ruled the fortress. However, there were frequent fights between merchants and boyars.

In 1498 the fortress passed under the merchant's possession and it was used mainly for treading. You should also know that it was a time when in charge of the leadership was a judge called "Judele Brasovului". Responsible for the defense of the castle was the permanent garrison: 2 guards and 10 - 20 archers and ballisters.

The boyars. had the right to collect fees from visitors and peasants. The fortress had an extra income from: selling cheese, milk and muttons and from manufacturing wood. The peasants fought against the aristocracy for several times. In 1514 they refused to take action against Gheorghe Doja.

In the 18th century the fortress was the house of the Austrians frontier guards. In 1836 Bran became the official border and the defense role of the fortress was no longer a priority. In 1920, the Brasov Town council donated Bran Castle to Queen Maria of Great Romania, who lived there with the royal family till 1947. Since 1947 the Castle is opened as a museum.

Architecture
The building of Bran Castle started somewhere around the year 1378. The constructors somehow succeeded in combining wood with the rock brought from Magura Branului.

The castle had a protective and commercial purpose. It had two rows of walls closing the passing towards South. They were made in stone and brick. Only few traces of the initial defense position still exist.

The undersized building of the ancient Post Office had a pit with 6-8 rooms and a cellar also used as prison. It hasn't been preserved.

At that time the fortress comprised the exterior wall, the donjon, the round tower and the gate's tower. The wall was built in stone blocks and bricks and had rectangular fire holes as had all Transylvanian fortresses. The donjon was located on the North side and comprised four floors and only two chambers. On the top there was an observation point. Since 1593 the round tower has a circular section. At its pit the ancient inhabitants used to deposit the gun powder. The first and the second floor comprised few chambers. Initially the gate's tower was round, but it was rebuilt in 1625 in rectangular shape. The ancient gate was blocked with beams. The only way of reaching this entrance was by climbing

While centuries passed by changes have been made to the castle. In the 16th century the wax-paper from the windows was replaced with glass and the shingle from the roof with tile. Many of the changes and reparations have been made by the prince Gabriel Bethlen. He added another rectangular tower, a square tower with two floors and the actual gate. The old observatory tower, dated 1622, shows the Romanian architectural style. At that time the villagers's houses were located on the North side of the castle. On the first floor there was a vestibule, a big dinning room, a kitchen and under the stairs a small room where they kept the gun powder. The second level comprised also a vestibule, a small chamber with a door towards the new tower, a room with short beams, a small room and a corridor made in wood (the exit towards the courtyard).

During 1920-1930 other changes have been made. The fire holes turned into windows, the well into the elevator's room and the stoves into fireplaces. There have been added towers to the stairs and it was built in wood the fourth floor.

Many legends are connected with Bran Castle. It is said the castle belonged to Count Dracula (Vlad Tepes), but nobody has any proof. Vlad Tepes lived only for a short time in the castle and only as a guest. What is really true is that Bran Castle conjures up the perfect Gothic fairy-tale image of a Transylvanian castle and as a result draws crowds of tourists from far and wide.

Dracula's Castle - The Legend
In 1897 Bram Stoker wrote a terrifying story about Count Dracula. A century after, there are still people who believe in it. Even researchers are trying to find out the truth about Dracula. All are trying to clear the mystery: was there or wasn't there a vampire in Transylvania?

How many of these fabulous stories are legends and how many say the truth ? Here is the legend about Dracula.

Stoker's story is based on the life of Vlad Tepes/Vlad the Impaler (1431-1476), a ruler revered by Romanians for standing up to the Ottoman Empire. Known as one of the most dreadful enemies of the Turks, Vlad started organizing the state and enforcing the law by applying death penalty and impaling all those he considered enemies: robbers, cunning priests, treacherous noblemen, beggars, usurper Saxons. In fact he fought against everybody who tried to replace him either by his step brother Vlad the Monk or by his cousin Dan the Young. The historians nicknamed him Vlad Tepes while people say he was Count Dracula because he used to sign with his father's name, Dracul "The Devil". Dracula is derived from the Romanian word for devil or dragon.

This word alone carries with it magic and mystery.

His castle is supposed to be Bran's Castle since its narrow corridors constitute a mysterious labyrinth of ghostly nooks and secret chambers easy to hide a "vampire".

The Dracula's Castle was built on the edge of the Bran Pass and nowadays lures guests worldwide who wish to partake in the legend of the Count Dracula.



bran_fantana

"Vlad Tepes Dracula - between legend and historic truth".

* 1997 was the 100th anniversary since the publication of the novel "Dracula" written by Bram Stoker which generated the legend of the vampire character *Bram Stoker needed an exotic country for his novel and a character to resemble somehow what he wanted. The information used in the novel about Transylvania and Dracula was taken from a Hungarian scholar,

Arminius Vambery, an Orientalist who provided some elements of the mediaeval legend about the Romanian prince * Among the many legends was the one made of the German stories published during Tepes life time by the Saxons living in Transylvanian towns of Brasov and Sibiu. These stories written as funny tales reached the Hungarian royal court which passing them on to the West when King Matei Corvin who came to Brasov with Vlad Tepes to arrested. Tepes was his prisoner for 12 years at Visegrad castle on the Danube. Matei Corvin was interest in spreading to the West this negative stories about Vlad
Tepes.

* What is very interesting, is that Vlad Tepes knew about the legends created around his personality, and during the last two years of his life Vlad Tepes took the name of Dracula. By adopting this nickname shows he was very proud of the legends about him finding them useful.

Museum

Vlad Tepes - a Great Prince

Source: Stefan Andreescu, "The truth about Vlad Tepes",
Romanian Bussines Journal, 1996

Because of his deeds the legends spread all the way to the Greek islands. I would not place him on the same level with Stefan cel Mare or Mircea cel Batran, but certainly he was an exceptional person, who contributed to the preservation of the Romanian state being.
An American historian who wrote best-sellers about him, called him as a strategist of terror. When sultan Mehmet arrived near Targoviste, a Byzantine historian says he saw a field of stakes with Turks impelled after the battles. They say, the sultan said that "if this prince had a bigger country, he would have done great things."
Vlad adopted that tactic in order to spread terror among his enemies and to compensate for the small number of his army. He used the same tactics in the famous night time attack on June 17-18, 1462, which he lead himself against the camp of the sultan Mehmet II trying to capture and kill him. But his detachment did not find the where the sultan was camping, only of his viziers. On the other hand, another boyar of Tepes which should've attacked from a different direction, didn't fulfil his mission. Eventually, that night attack at the light of torches, produced great terror. The mediaeval wars usually were conducted in day light. His fighting tactics were uncommon in this respect, The Turks attempted to trap him at Giurgiu and arrest him. After he defeated them again Vlad Tepes organized a raid of Tara Romaneasca for burning and destroying all the Ottoman garrisons south the Danube on an area of about 800 km. He aimed at destroying the bridge heads of Ottoman bases along the Danube. His letter of February 11' 1462 in which he told about that raid and which had an appendix with the victims on localities, where about 23,000 enemies were executed. That kind of horrific
bookkeeping of killed enemies proved Vlad Tepes was driven to destroy the Ottoman armies when he started
the war.

A Greek and an Ottoman official tried to trap him at Giurgiu, but they were caught and impelled. Vlad Tepes
was assassinated on a hill, while leading a fight against the Ottoman expeditionary corps. Some sources said he was attacked by a Turk disguised as a Wallachian soldier, other sources said that a member of his own guard was bribed to killed him. What is important is that Vlad Tepes raided the Turkish fortresses south the Danube remained famous and had a great echo all over Europe. His battles on the Danube had a great significance especially in the South-East Europe. Vlad's war on the Danube infused a lot of courage in the Balkans, only few years after the Byzantine Empire fell. This way, all the hopes for a liberation of the South Eastem European states focussed for the moment on Vlad Tepes

Poienari.JPG

Vlad Tepes was sacrificed for political reasons

Source: Stefan Andreescu, "The truth about Vlad Tepes",
Romanian Bussines Journal, 1996

Vlad Tepes was sacrificed for political reasons
Another enigma was the arrest of Vlad Tepes after he prepared to take back his throne. All of a sudden, the Venice ambassadors reported that,on King Matei Corvin's order, Prince Vlad was taken prisoner under the accusation of treason. Some letters were produce as evidence, addressed by Tepes to the Ottoman Gate, certainly forgeries, and all possible cruelties were blamed on him to justify the halting of the crusade against the Turks. I found out an obscure passage in Antonio Bomfini's chronicle, an Italian at the court of Matei
Corvin. While Corvin started the expedition to put back on the throne of Vlad Tepes, he found that there were troubles in Vienna and that Emperor Frederik
III, was sequestered in the castle. The Emperor was his former rival to the throne of Hungary. The Viennese citizens sent a messenger to Corvin in Brasov, offering him the imperial crown. Thus now he needed the reason to
stop the campaign for Vlad enthronement. So, he forged the letters of Vlad Tepes accusing him of treason and arrested him. Vlad Tepes became a pawn for political interests.

Count Vlad.jpg

How was Vlad Tepes different from other princes of the time?

Source: Stefan Andreescu, "The truth about Vlad Tepes",
Romanian Bussines Journal, 1996

To see how strange his thinking was I will refer to a coin discovery belonging to Octavian lliescu, who identified the first coin issued by Vlad Tepes. The coin, without engraving, is a silver coin with an unusual representation: on one face of the coin a shooting star. The star was no other than Halley Comet, the famous comet which was seen from China to Italy in 1456. That was the exact time when Vlad Tepes began his longer ruling period, 1456-1462. Vlad Tepes did not hesitate to take as a divine sign a representation which in all Europe generated fear as being a bad omen. For him a shooting star was a sign of victory. Vlad Dracul and his elder brother were removed from the throne and killed in 1447. His brother was buried alive at Targoviste.
Dracula's decreed that the people of Targoviste to go on Easter all dressed festively, "until their clothes were tom apart on them", as revenge for the death of his elder brother.
Vlad Tepes had a special mind. As for his cruelty, there are many exaggerations. The Saxon stories were ironic rather
than true. His deeds were amplified because during his first years as ruler he imposed a protectionist regime for the trade of Tarii Romanesti . The Saxon towns were strong and had a of monopoly in the region, supporting for the throne those against Vlad Tepes. That was the reason for Vlad's incursions beyond the mountains. Now, when we "judge" Vlad Tepes we have to consider the other elements of his spiritual side too. We have a document he signed at Tismana monastery and we know that he also was a pious man. His war effort downstream of the Danube to confront the Ottoman ruler Mehmet Ilnd, was done in the spirit of defence of Christianity. He acted as an orthodox Christian prince, Constantin C. Giurascu said about Vlad Tepes. He tried first of all to make order in the country after a period of politicall haos. He started reprisals against the boyar clans opposing him. We could never deny that, unlike other ruler, he had an unusual harshness. Professor Mihai Berza said about him that he applied a
unique and terrible punishment for those that committed small robberies to crime - impaling.
It is clear that the survival of the Tarii Romanesti in the confrontation with the superpower on the banks of Bosphorus was the alternation between war and compromise with the new kingdom in Constantinople. From this point of view, Vlad Tepes represented very well the effort for the saving of the state being. There were many discussions about the fact, that while in 1462 Vlad Tepes could not be removed from the throne by the Ottoman army lead by sultan Mehmet II, conqueror of Constantinople, a few months later, until his arrest by the men of Matei Corvin, he was a fugitive in the mountains. Who removed him from the throne? Historian Gheorghe Ghibanescu proved that it was with the help of the boyars. When Mehmet II withdrew from Tara Romaneasca, he did not win the war and Vlad was still the ruler.
Vlad Tepes adopted the tactic of avoiding the battle in the open field, harassing the Ottoman armies until the sultan
reached Adrianopole on July 11, 1462 - with no war spoils.
At the end of the expedition, Viad Tepes remained on his throne and the sultan left near the Wallachian borders a puppet
king who was no other than the youngest brother of Vlad Tepes, Radu cel Frumos, Radu got his nickname from the fact that he became a very intimate friend of the sultan. Maybe, in the end Vlad Tepes was forced by his own boyars to leave the throne.

VICI

Vlad the Impaler Club International

In the light and shade of the Bran chalet (in fact a new
building, in course of consolidation), RETAS the great Master of international magic arts, graduate from the High Institute of Psychology in Cairo and diplomat in astrology of The Essop Specialized School in Psychic and Ocult Sciences in Paris, author of numerous books on magic and astrology, the man able to decipher mysteries and to recompose new meaning, is talking about , VICI (Vlad the Impaler Club International).

The initiative belongs to a group of intellectuals - the majority of them from the district of Brasov - who designated me as as president of honour and involved me in transposition of the idea of this club, on the basis of
OSIM trade mark and its aditional status, with strong emphasis on turism, to outline and to regenerate the itinerary "Dracula Tour" On these coordinates we shall proceed to the enrollment of new members in the country and abroad. At present there are 100 members on the list taking into account the effect of the publicity spot showed in Italy, which proved the existance of an unusual interest in our prospects, first of all that of the restoration of the character in the legend interpreted with malefic, funanbulist and sensational effects, by the saxon tales in the Dark Middle Age.