Strange fact – Bram Stoker, author of the iconic 1897 novel Dracula (the bloodsucking Count of Transylvania), was actually better known as a personal assistant than a writer during his lifetime.
But enough about him, this piece is about the inspiration behind the character of Count Dracula. A man so vile, so sadistic, we can’t even take his name.
Well that’s not true, his name was actually Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia or – as he is better known – Vlad the Impaler. Brutal.
The origins of this macabre enigma stems from 1431, when Vlad III was born in Transylvania, the central region of modern-day Romania (then Walachia).
The progeny of Vlad II Dracul, he took the name Dracula, or ‘son of Dracul’ when he was initiated into a secret order of Christian knights known as the Order of the Dragon. In Romanian, Dracul means ‘dragon’.
As ruler of Wallachia, Vlad’s claim to fame was, of course, his barbaric ruthlessness.
The ‘Impaler’ in his name? It came from the fact that he had a sadistic love for driving wooden stakes through people, and leaving them exposed to die.
During his campaign against Ottoman invaders in 1462, Vlad apparently had up to 20,000 victims impaled on the banks of the Danube river. This was known as the ‘Forest of the Impaled’.
If he was feeling creative, he’d skin or boil his victims alive. He wasn’t averse to ripping out their organs either.
When an Ottoman crew of envoys was sent to meet with Vlad, they didn’t take off their turbans due to religious reasons. Vlad then reportedly had their turbans nailed to their heads.
Apparently, he liked to wash his hands in the blood of his victims. And in what was probably the first case of biological warfare, he actually paid sick people to spread their germs in the Ottoman camps.
This bloodthirsty ruler was finally captured by Hungarian forces in 1476, and killed while in battle. In some ways, Vlad was actually worse than Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But there it is, the story behind one of the most iconic goth figures of all time. Sleep well, folks.