Dracula’s legend is one of the most famous symbols of Romania, at least from the point of view of the foreigners that immediately associate Dracula to Romania. The character Dracula appears as an interference among the numerous legends to have travelled in time between the Irish Bram Stoker’s novel and real, historic actions of the ruler Vlad Tepes, also surnamed Draculea.
Who is Vlad Tepes?
The ruler Vlad Tepes is an iconic image, being the subject of several literary and historic creations. The nickname “Tepes” was attributed to him due to his authoritarian ruling, trying to impose honesty and industry as values of the Romanian people, harshly punishing theft and deceit; those that did not abide by his rules were impelled. Though he was described as a cruel and intolerant man, Vlad Tepes was respected by his subjects for the efficient campaigns he led against the Turks.
Besides the nickname “Tepes”, the ruler is also associated to “Dracula”, an association actually engendered by Vlad Tepes’s father that had the surname of Dracul and from here, a series of derivations such as: Dracea, Dracula, Draculea. On the other side, not even the connection between Vlad Tepes and Bran Castle is not strong enough or sustained, the only connection being that at the end of 1462, Vlad Tepes was taken prisoner by Matei Corvin and locked up for 2 months at Bran Castle.
These aspects led to the confusion between Vlad Tepes and Dracula but remember that they are not one and the same character.
Who is Dracula?
Dracula is a fictitious character, created by Bram Stoker in the novel by the same name, in 1897.
Bram Stoker had the intention to create a character to come from the Irish stories, but in the research period for the novel, he was reached by stories about Transylvania, known as an area in the mountains, remote and full of a gory history, which determined him to change the initial name of the place of action and to set the character’s castle in Transylvania.
In the description of Dracula’s castle, Bram Stoker has as a starting point a presentation of Bran Castle, this being the only castle in Transylvania, reason for which Dracula was associated to Bran Castle.
Count Dracula in Bram Stoker’s novel is a vampire born from the myth according to which in the villages neighboring the castle there’s this belief in a ghost, people alive at day that suffer from the curse of immortality and at night haunt the villagers, since their spirits leave the bodies.
As far as the etymology of the name “Dracula” is concerned, the name of Bram Stoker’s character, there are several speculations. Originally, “Dracula” had nothing scary, but the association with Vlad Tepes, an authoritarian and blood thirsty despot, as well as the legends in Transylvania about poltergeist and ghosts, led to creation of the myth Dracula. On the other side, the name of the character is given by a popular Irish designation "droch ola", that means "bad blood".
So, there is this tendency of creating a connection between the historic character Vlad Tepes and the fictitious Dracula or even of confusion; we must make a clear distinction between the two, between reality and myth.
If you want to discover more about Dracula and Bran Castle, book a Day Trip to Dracula’s Castle.