The Truth Behind The Legend Of Dracula …as told by Linda Mercury
As we approach Halloween, I wanted to share the research I did for the most famous horror figure of the last three centuries, Vlad Dracula himself. In my books, Dracula's Secret and Dracula's Desires, I start with the premise that Vlad had actually been born a female. Out of sheer necessity, her parents decide to raise her as a boy. I thought it best to play to my strengths - namely, historical research. Who told the stories behind Vlad's legend? What were their motivations? How have those stories changed through the years? Even the most cursory look at the secondary and tertiary sources on Vlad Dracula shows a stunning (or tedious, depending on your personality) number of resources on how bloodthirsty and cruel this particular historical figure was. To find out where they got their information, I did what every self-respecting historian does. I checked their bibliographies for their primary sources. This is what I found. 1. Vlad Dracul II lived from 1431-1476. 2. No sources survive from Vlad himself (despite it being commonly reported that he was highly educated and literate). This includes any of his legislative acts. 3. No sources survive from his brothers, father, wives, other relatives, or even friends. 4. The only primary source that is contemporary to Vlad's life is in the Monastery of St. Gall, in Switzerland. It was written by an unknown author in 1462. The manuscript gives a number of anecdotes about Vlad (thirty-two, according to the translation I read). The translator claims that six of those thirty-two stories are confirmed by other sources, but does not name those sources. 5. The stories discussing Vlad's crimes against humanity were not verified by other contemporary sources. 5. The Russian and German documents that discuss Vlad's preference for disemboweling animals, etc., etc., etc., date from 1490 at the earliest - nearly twenty years after he died. 7. The woodcut portraits of Vlad date from 1488 and 1491. The famous oil portrait comes from the second half of the 17th century. Which, I might point out, is nearly 200 years after Vlad died. Many scholars make much of the oral transmissions of the folk tales of Romania. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any analysis of these stories by anthropologists or historians that would confirm the accuracy. Folk tales often are multipurpose stories - they could be cautionary tales or money makers to fleece the unsuspecting. I've not seen any studies done of where the folktales agree with the primary sources. For example, contemplate the relationship people in the United States have with George Washington. The old cherry tree tale has been discredited, but how many of us still remember it and tell it? What all this boils down to is very simple: We don't know that much about this historical figure. So as a result, I felt like I could play with this person, bring my own interpretation to the story of Dracula. After all, my outrageous ideas seem to fit right in with the rest. From Susan: Linda is giving away this lovely dragon necklace to one lucky commenter. You can find her at her blog, and at Amazon. Her interests include: writing, romance, Middle Eastern History, reading, organizing, cooking, hand-made silk Turkish rugs, and the Nike of Samothrace.
Posted on October 23, 2012, in Auth: Special Guest and tagged 1431 - 1476, Dracula, Dracula's Desires, Dracula's Secret, halloween, historical research, Linda Mercury, Russian and German documants, See Jane Publish, Susan Lute, Vlad Dracula, woodcut portrait. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.