Bram Stoker's depiction of the master vampire Dracula has become so iconic that the character has been replicated countless times. Dracula has become the pinnacle of vampire lore, a mold to which all others are compared. However, an even more interesting story is centered around the man whom Stoker took inspiration from in his horrific antagonist: Vlad the Impaler.
Vlad's story actually begins with the story of his father, Vlad II. Vlad II adopted the surname of Dracul, meaning dragon, when he was inducted into the Order of the Dragon. This brotherhood of knights were sworn to protect the Holy Roman Empire and wage war against the Islamic Turks. Surprisingly, Vlad Dracul betrayed the Empire and made a deal with the Turks - he would give up his two sons (one of which was Vlad III) to the Turkish Sultan in exchange for power and wealth as the ruler of Wallachia.
Although Dracula showed that he was skilled in various forms of torture and murder (burning alive, decapitation, etc), his favorite by far was impaling, in which a human body was impaled on a large vertical pole, the weight of the body slowly pulling it downwards. The death was painful, and slow. In this way, Vlad the Impaler struck fear into the hearts of his enemies and followers alike.
Another example of Dracula's brutality: When he decided that hunger and poverty held no place in his kingdom, Vlad gathered all of the poor and hungry from the streets and invited them to a large banquet. When asked if they would like to never feel the pains of hunger again, the pauper's were obviously overjoyed - until Vlad ordered the banquet hall sealed off and burned to the ground. No one survived.
After many battles and shifting alliances, Dracula wandered down his father's footsteps one more time when his brother betrayed him. Vlad's demise finally met up with him when he found himself in the middle of a battle that he could not win. He was decapitated, and his head was impaled for all to see.
Now that you have read about the origin of the character of Bram Stoker's Dracula, head over to The Maiden's Court to listen in on a conversation between Heather and I about the similarities and differences of Dracula and Dracula in Love.
And also don't forget to enter the giveaway of Dracula. It ends this Friday!