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. 


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About Susan

Author, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, dreamer.

Posted on October 23, 2012, in Auth: Special Guest and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I’m doing a project on Vlad Dracula, is there a possible link to the translations you have found? I need a primary source for this projects and this is the only one I could find information on. Please reply if you can, my email is : ella15quotev@gmail.com

    Like

  2. I love reading the historical research authors do. I’m always wary when stories of horror about an individual are based on oral history that comes from outside the country of origin, and especially if the primary sources are propaganda pamphlets (all too often used in the middle ages). Too many times we’ve learned that individuals (particularly leaders) are made out to be horrifying in order to serve an agenda of the church or a conquering country. Dr. Elizabeth Miller, professor emerita at Memorial University in Newfoundland and head of the Dracula Research Center, describes the discrepancy between primary sources in this way.

    “All of these sources are biased. In the case of the German reports, the German Saxons of Transylvania were victims of inccursions by Vlad into what was an independent state and the imposition of his harsh economic measures. One could hardly expect then to be objective informants. The Turkish chroniclers are hardly any more objective, downplaying Vlad’s military successes and stressing their own demonstrations of bravery and cunning. Russian narratives were generally more unbiased. The Romanian narratives, by contrast, present a very different Vlad: a folk hero who endeavored to save his people not only from the invading Turks but from the treacherous boyars.”

    Whatever the truth, positing that dracula was actually a woman is a fresh take on the legend. I wish you all the best with your book.

    Like

  3. Wow! I had no idea there weren’t any real direct accounts of stories that I thought were proven about the man behind the Dracula lore. Great post.

    Like

  4. Thank you so much for hosting me! You rock.

    (Be sure to come on over to my blog to get a chance to win cool Halloween goodies, too. 🙂

    Like

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