Difficult question! Legends, truth, literature, history, movies, local tales. Where is the truth? And where begins the legend ?
Dracula strikes terror deep in the heart like few stories can. Bram Stoker’s novel, like Dracula himself, is immortal. Count Dracula swoops into the deep shadows of our psyche to feast upon our inner fears.
Dracula was Prince Vlad III Dracula, also known as Vlad Tepes, meaning “Vlad the Impaler.” The Turks called him Kaziglu Bey, or “the Impaler Prince. He was the prince of Walachia, but, as legend suggests, he was born in Transylvania, which at that time was ruled by Hungary.
Walachia was founded in 1290 by Radu Negru, or Rudolph the Black. It was dominated by Hungary until 1330, when it became independent. The first ruler of the new country was Prince Basarab the Great (1310-1352).
Mircea had an illegitimate son, Vlad, born around 1390, who was educated in Hungary and Germany. Vlad served as a page for King Sigismund of Hungary, who became the Holy Roman Emperor in 1410. Sigismund founded a secret fraternal order of knights called the Order of the Dragon to uphold Christianity and defend the empire against Turkey. Because of his bravery fighting Turks, Vlad was admitted to the Order, probably in 1431. The boyars started to call him Dracul, meaning “dragon.” Vlad’s second son would be known as Dracula, or “son of the dragon.” Dracul also meant “devil.” So Dracula’s enemies, especially German Saxons, called him “son of the devil.”
Interesting fact: members of the Order of the Dragon had a special costume to wear on Sundays. It was a red garment with a black cape over it . . . that’s why the fictional Dracula wears a cape!