So - vampires! Our love affair with vampire stories really goes back to Bram Stoker in the nineteenth century. And since it's well known that he took the name of his Count Dracula together with some of his heroic history, from the fifteenth century prince, Vlad Dracula, aka Vlad the Impaler, I thought it might be fun to look at this vivid historical personality.
Here are some FAQs about the real Dracula.
1. Was he a vampire?
No! He was the ruling prince of Wallachia, now part of modern Romania. Bram Stoker took his nickname and some of his history for his own creation, Count Dracula. Before then, no one had ever accused him of vampirism!
2. When was he born and when did he die?
He was born around 1431, and died in 1476.
3. Did he really have a connection with Transylvania?
Yes. Although it belonged to Hungary at the time, the princes of Wallachia traditionally held several several towns there. However, he was never ruler of Transylvania.
5. Why was he given the nickname, Dracula?
"Dracul" can mean "Devil" in Romanian, and some say he earned the title through the atrocities he committed. However "dracul" can also mean "dragon"; so Vlad's nickname is more probably to do with the chivalric Order of the Dragon bestowed by the Holy Roman Emperor on his father (also a Vlad) who was thereafter known as Vlad Dracul. Young Vlad also received the honour and was known as Vlad Dracula, Son of the Dragon. It was clearly a name he was proud of since he signed several documetns Vlad Dracula.
6. Why was he called the Imapler?
This was a nickname given him by the Turks, "Lord Imapler" because of his penchant for this form of punishment. The worst case in terms of numbers was when he displayed a "forest" of the implaled" outside his capital city of Tirgoviste, which scared the Sultan's invading army into retreat.
Impalement, vile as it is, was not a particularly rare form of execution in this period or in this area, being practised by both Christians and Ottomans.
7. Was he the cruel, pysychotic tyrant of legend?
According to many pamphlets and books of the time, yes he was. But according to the folk memory of his own people, he was a hero who defended his country from Turkish invasion, and prevented the Sultan's forces stealing Wallachian children to become janissaries.
In fact, the worst of the horror stories - which are clearly exaggerated as to numbers if nothing else - came from the German towns of Transylvania which rebelled against him and paid the price, and from the Hungarians who imprisoned him on false charges for twelve years.
So... a gentle man? Probably not!
A tyrant? Probably! It was more or less expected of princes of the period, but he always ruled with the agreement of his "boyars" (noblemen).
Cruel and psychotic? I doubt he was crueler than other rulers of a period when Machiavelli advised that it was better for a prince to be feared than loved. He seems to have been rigid and strict in dispensing justice, but a psycho hell-bent on torture and killing at the expense of the propserity of his country? It doesn't fit with the way the people rallied to him to fight the Turks, and helped him escape when the war was lost. Or with the fact that no one assassinated him when he was at his weakest. Like the real king Macbeth in Scotland, I very much doubt that Vlad Dracula was a hated man in his own country.
Which brings me to Saloman, vampire hero of Blood on Silk and Blood Sin :). Vampire overlord, determined to rule not just vampires but humans too. Although Elizabeth acquitted him of insanity in Blood on Silk, he can be cruel by human standards, and he definitely has tyrannical inclinations! Here's another ambiguous moment with Saloman from Blood Sin...
BLOOD SIN: Awakened by Blood 2 by MARIE TREANOR
Coming 5th April from Signet Eclipse
Available now for Pre-oder
Even if you stand in the light, you can dwell in the dark.
Months after her dangerous encounter with vampire overlord Saloman, Scottish academic Elizabeth Silk is still trying to cope with both the demands of her ancestral bloodline—which marks her as a vampire hunter — and the overpowering desire she feels for the immortal she brought back from the grave. But she is not alone in her fascination with Saloman.
When Elizabeth tracks down a distant cousin from America, she learns he possesses an antique sword that has caught the interest of the Grand Master of the American hunters. It is the ancient and mystical sword of Saloman — a treasure of vast occult powers and a prize beyond measure to both vampires and humans. Now the race is on for possession of the sword.
Even as her enemies and allies shift their allegiances and battle for supremacy, Elizabeth must decide which will rule her own perilous fate: unwanted loyalty or unholy love.
She was distractedly brushing her hair in front of the mirror when Saloman entered without warning. He wore a smart business suit and a snow-white silk shirt, open at the neck, and although his hair was loosely confined behind his head, he still managed to look just a little bit wild and dangerous. His beauty made her throat ache.
He walked across the room to stand behind her chair, and met her gaze in the mirror.
“You do have a reflection,” she said faintly. “I never noticed before.”
“Of course I do. Bram Stoker wasn’t right about everything.”
“It’s a myth I’ve heard from several sources,” she said defensively.
Abruptly, his figure disappeared and she jerked her head in alarm to see him standing several feet to the left.
“Speed of movement,” he observed. “If I move fast enough, you might think I still stood behind you and had no reflection.”
Elizabeth closed her mouth. “What I pity I couldn’t use that in my thesis. What’s with the suit? Going to see the bank manager?”
“Almost. I’m going to visit Edward Dante.”
She frowned and laid down her brush. “Edward Dante? Not Grayson?”
“Not Grayson,” he agreed, wandering toward the window. “It’s time to consider what will happen to the Dante wealth when Grayson dies.”
She should have been prepared for disappointment, but she wasn't. It felt like a pain corroding her stomach. “‘The way to power in this age is wealth,’” she quoted bitterly. “You don’t really give a damn about Dante’s threat to the world, do you? Was any of that even true?”
“Every word,” he said mildly. The curtain moved, apparently of its own volition, blocking the sunlight, which had threatened to move directly on to him. “But the money won’t go away. I can make excellent use of it.”
Oh, God, oh, fuck, why did I agree to come with him? “What are you planning to do with Edward Dante?” she said hoarsely, dragging her gaze away from the self-closing curtain.
Saloman turned from the window and met her gaze. His eyes were black as coal. “Sup on him slowly. Like a gourmet meal.”
She sprang to her feet, to do or say what, she wasn’t sure, and before she could decide, he was already speaking again.
“Or I could just talk to him. You can come, if you like, and see.”
She stared at him, and slowly convinced herself to relax. She could almost imagine she’d hurt his feelings. At any rate, she discounted the “supping” jibe. He was dressed, she imagined, as Adam Simon, and was going to conduct business rather than death. There was relief there, and yet the tiny incident served to remind her all over again how irreconcilably different were their points of view.
She turned away. “I don’t want to see. Do you really imagine the accumulation of money will bring you power?”
“It worked for Dante.”
“Along with family connections that stretch back generations. Dante is pure American establishment. You are anything but.” She drew in her breath. “You despise Dante. Can’t you see that you’re actually just like him?”
His long black lashes swept down over his pale cheek and lifted to reveal his dark, mocking eyes once more. He walked toward her with such deliberation that it took every ounce of self-control not to panic and bolt. He came right up to her, so close that his jacket brushed the swell of her breasts. Her breath caught as he bent his head, but his lips didn’t touch hers, not quite. There was no warmth, no breath to stir her skin, and yet she was aware of every movement of his mouth almost gliding across her jaw to her neck, and up to her ear.
“No,” he whispered. “I’m not.”
Elizabeth closed her eyes, as terrified by her own upsurge of fierce, desperate lust as by the knowledge of his anger. Had she ever angered him before? Weird triumph warred with fear and regret.
Nothing happened. When she opened her eyes, he was already across the room. “Don’t go out,” he advised. And the next instant he was gone. She didn’t even hear the door close.
Elizabeth let her breath out in a rush and grasped at her throat as if for comfort. Part of her wanted to laugh; the rest was far too angry with him, both for pursuing wealth and power—just like Dante, whatever he said—and, more trivially, for daring to tell her not to go out. Stuff that.
And now the Contest! To enter the draw for either a copy of either Blood on Silk or Blood Sin - winner's choice - comment on this post, or tell me, in Elizabeth's position, would you go out against Saloman's advice? And if you did, would you go shopping or would you follow Saloman to see what he's up to? The contest will close at midnight tonight, and the winner will be annoucned tomorrow on this therad.