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Vlad Tepes: the real and brutal man behind Dracula

This man spread fear just by hearing his name, just what Bram Stoker was looking for his masterpiece main character.

Much is said about this character and over the years a mysterious aura has surrounded him. Recently it was Bram Stoker’s birthday, he was responsible for giving life to this iconic being, but did Dracula really exist? The answer might be in a Romanian royal member.

There was a prince who went down in history for his bloodthirsty acts against his enemies, which served as inspiration for the creation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, his name? Vlad Tepes or Vlad the Impaler.

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Vlad the Impaler was the prince of Wallachia in what today is Romania, in South-Eastern Europe, and Bram Stoker used several elements of Vlad’s life to create Dracula. Although there are very few things in common between the two, this character have inspired several horror movies, books, stories and more.

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The real Dracula’s Castle

Vlad was born in 1431 in what is nowadays known as Transylvania, or at least that is believed to be the case. This issue is still debatable for some specialists in medieval history and archeology because in fact, the castle that is sold to tourists as the real Dracula’s castle was never inhabited by Vlad.

However, it is possible to visit a castle where Vlad spent some time of his life, when he was a prisoner in Turkey, the Tokat Castle, while the real Vlad’s castle nowadays is in ruins. And the one located in Transylvania, the Bran Castle has all the characteristics that Bram used in his book.

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Dracula’s name origin

His dad joined the Order of the Dragon (Drac, in Hungarian) in 1428 and became known as Vlad Dracul; later, when his son was born was named Vlad Draculea, that is, son of Dracul. In Romanian mythology, there are no dragons and the term Dracul was used to refer to the devil. Thus, Vlad lll ended up being ‘The Devil’s son’ in Romanian.

While for Vlad it ended up being the right name because it coincided with the bloodthirsty person he became, for Bram Stoker it was the perfect name for his character who sought to generate terror among his readers.

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Vlad The Impaler was a living nightmare

Vlad became an amateur prince of torture so when it came to finishing off his victims, he never thought of tempting his heart. He was governor for seven years and is credited with 100,000 executions. His favorite torture technique was impalement and he was said to have a peculiar taste for blood, thus, Vlad Tepes would go down in history as Vlad The Impaler.

Vlad ruled by fear, he had brutal treatment against minorities, exterminating them as if they were anything.

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He also took it upon himself to put an end to anyone who opposed him and his way of governing, not only that, but he also imposed his authority over the Catholic clergy, and much less did he care to punish its members, bringing it to the attention of Pope Pius IV.

The beginning of the legend

Vlad lived a constant war against the Turks, battles characterized by extraordinary brutalities, like everything this man did. In 1476 Vlad died fighting the Turks and his head was sent to Constantinople, marking the end of Vlad III Tepes and also the beginning of the Dracula legend.

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In this way, Vlad Tepes became the main inspiration for the Irish writer to create a character with whom he would try to assimilate the same terror that the real one caused.

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