Monday, 15 January 2007

Castle Dracula - an update.

Castle Dracula is for sale. More properly known in Transylvania - today a region of Romania - as Bran Castle, it is being sold by the Habsburg family.

Imaginative vampire lovers will be forgiven for conjuring images of coffins in the basement filled with the Count's descendants anxiously awaiting their fate. But there is one little problem: Count Dracula has nothing to do with the castle at all.

Bran Castle was built in 1377 and okay, yes, in 1462 Dracula did make a stopover there. Once, to rest his horses. But wait: which Dracula are we talking about? Not the vampire count, but Vlad Tepes "the Impaler" ­ who was also, as it happens, known as Dracula.

In the West we have come to think that Vlad was in some way related to the Count, or was even a bloodsucker himself. This is thanks to movies like Francis Ford Coppola's 'Dracula' and bestsellers like Elizabeth Kostova's 'The Historian', which have recklessly and deliberately muddled the genealogies.

Romanian nationalists revere Vlad as the prince, or voivode, who fended off the Turks and who, with the threat of impalements for all, imposed a ferocious discipline over his own fractious nation. (Ivan the Terrible thought him a terrific role model.) For the record: he was not a vampire, nor did he drink the blood of his enemies.

The trouble for Romania really began with Radu Florescu and Raymond McNally's 1973 bestseller, In Search of Dracula, which made wild and spurious claims about Vlad's influence on Bram Stoker, indelibly linking the two.In fact, there is no evidence, not even in the author's notes and archives at Philadelphia's Rosenbach Museum, that Stoker was aware of Vlad's stake thing, or of much about Vlad at all; only that "Dracula" translated as "Devil".

Stoker never went to Romania (nor Hungary, of which Transylvania was a part at the time); and he certainly never made mention of Bran Castle.
The First Post: