Romanian-American Network, Inc.
Romanian-American Network, Inc.
Romanian-American Network, Inc.
Romanian-American Network, Inc.

History of Romania

Although Roman occupation of Dacia ended in 271 A.D., the relationship between the Romans and Dacians flourished; mixed marriages and the adoption of Latin culture and language gradually molded the Romans and Dacians into a distinct ethnic entity. The ancestors of the modern Romanian people managed to preserve their Latin heritage despite Gothic, Slavic, Greek, Hungarian, and Turkish conquests; and the Romanian language survived as a member of the romance language group.

Romania has been subjected to numerous occupations by foreign powers since the Middle Ages. In the Thirteenth Century, the Romanian principalities Moldavia and Wallachia became vassal states of the Ottoman Empire. Bukovina, Transylvania and Banat were incorporated into the Austro-Hungarian Empire during the 1700s. Czarist Russia occupied Bassarabia in 1812. In 1859, Moldavia and Wallachia became a national state. At the Congress of Berlin in 1878, Romania obtained full independence from the Ottoman Empire but lost Bessarabia to Russia. In 1881, Romania was proclaimed a kingdom, and Carol I (1839-1914) was installed as its first monarch.

Following the death of Carol I, his nephew, Ferdinand (1865-1927), became king and led the country into World War I against the Central Powers but later became their ally. Romania regained Transylvania, Banat, Bukovina, and other territories after the war. In 1940, Carol II (1893-1953) named General Ion Antonescu (1882-1946) premier of Romania, who then forced the monarch to renounce his throne in favor of his son, Michael I (1921-). Under Antonescu’s influence, Romania became an ally of Nazy Germany during World War II and fought against the Soviet Union. In the last year of the war, however, Romania switched its alliance to the Soviets and, after the war ended, Antonescu was executed. In national elections held in 1947, members of the Communist party assumed many high-level positions in the new government; and King Michael I was forced to abdicate his throne. Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej (1901-1965), of the Romanian Communist party, served as premier (1952-1955) and later as chief of state (1961-1965). Two years after Gheorghiu Dej’s death, Nicolae Ceausescu (1918-1998), a high-ranking Communist official, assumed the presidency of Romania.

On 22 December 1989, the Communist regime was overthrown, and Ceausescu was executed on Christmas Day. In the post-Communist years, various changes have occurred, including a free press, free elections, and a multi-party electorate bringing to power a democratic government. The pace of transforming Romania’s economy into a market economy accelerated and improved relations with the United States, Canada and other Western countries were promoted. Romania also petitioned to become a member of NATO, and its candidacy will be considered in the year 2002. Romania’s current president is Ion Iliescu. He replaced Emil Constantinescu (1996-2000) and also preceded him during the period 1990-1996.

When, Where And How The Genesis Of The Romanian People Took Place

Like all the other Romanic peoples, the Romanian nation was formed during a long period of time, starting with the Roman conquest of the Lower Danube zones and ending in the eighth and ninth centuries. The venue of this genesis was situated on both sides of the Danube, including Roman Dacia, the territories of the free Dacians and other neighboring regions.

A new people and a new language were formed at that time within this space, situated in Central and Southeastern Europe. The Romanians are a synthesis of two ethnic elements, namely the native Thraco-Geto-Dacians and the Roman conquerors, of which the latter element was also the stronger and consequently triumphed. The mechanism leading to the formation of the Romanian people and its language is called Romanization and it presupposes the gradual appropriation of the Latin language, customs and creeds by the natives. The two Moesia provinces (Moesia Superior and Moesia Inferior) represented a strong center of Romanization until the sixth century. But, following the onrush of the Slavs and the shifting of their headquarters south of the Danube, the center of Danubian Romanity was concentrated in the former Trajan’s Dacia and the neighboring areas. Although their influence was felt only later, when the formation of the Romanian nation was in its final stage, the Slavs are the third element-minor, it is true-that played a certain part in the configuration of the Romanians’ personality. In their relationship with Romanians, the Slavs played the same role as the one played by the Germanic elements in the case of Romanic peoples in Western and Southern Europe. Thus, around the eighth century, when, roughly speaking, the Romanian people came into existence, its main nucleus lived north of the Danube, where the Slavs’ assimilation had already started and would last until the 12th and 13th centuries. South of the Danube, the numerous Slavs pushed the Romances (proto-Romanians) northwards, southwards and westwards, con- comitantly starting a long Slavicization process. That is the reason why the Romanian people appeared and asserted themselves as a medieval nation north of the Danube and in Dobrudja, whereas in the south, in the Balkans, smaller groups of Aromanians (or Macedo- Romanians), Megleno-Romanians and Istro-Romanians survived.

Amounting to several hundred thousand nowadays, these people speak three different dialects of the Romanian language. Romanian proper (called the Daco-Romanian dialect) is spoken in Romania and Moldova, being the mother tongue of about 25 million people.

Like all the Romanic peoples, the Romanians were formed from two basic ethnic elements, namely the native element (the Thraco- Daco-Getians) and the conquering element (the Romans). In this synthesis, the Latin essence triumphed. The third ethnic element was represented by nomadic’ populations, especially the Slavs, which could not alter the Romance character of the Romanians. It is impossible nowadays to state the biological ratio of each element in the genesis of the Romanian people, but it is certain that Romanity triumphed on both the spiritual and the linguistic level. The gradual metamorphosis of the Thraco-Geto- Dacians and of the Romans (and of other ethnic elements assimilated in the course of time), into proto-Romanians and Romanians lasted for seven to eight centuries in the first millennium of the Christian age. It occurred on a vast territory along the Lower Danube, and, in about the sixth to seventh centuries, it was concentrated north of the Danube, where Romanity resisted the waves of migratory peoples. It follows that the Romanian people-the most numerous in Southeast Europe-did not form exclusively north or exclusively south of the Danube, but on either side of the river which only became a barrier between the Latino- phones and the other ethic groups after the genesis of the Slavic states. The Danube did not prevent the Romanians and their ancestors from circulating on both its banks, individually or in groups, or, in certain circumstances, from moving from the north to the south or the other way round. Nevertheless, it never occurred to all Romanians from the south to go northwards or vice versa, because they had neither the means, nor any reason to do so. Logistically this kind of mass crossings was impossible and no Romanic people ever resorted to it.

As seen above, Romanians resemble the other Romanic peoples in many ways. Sharing a common geographical area, the latter lived and developed together as neighbors, influencing one another. The Romanians, on the other hand, are the only Romanic people in Eastern Romanity. Nowadays their neighbors are Bulgarians, Serbs, Ukrainians, Poles, Slovaks-in short, Slavs-and Hungarians. None of them is a Latin people. During the Middle Ages, the situation was the same, in the sense that none of the Romanians’ neighbors was of Romance origin. That is the reason why many historians and linguists have considered the Romanians to be a “miracle” and an “enigma,” not so much for the way in which they came into being, but mostly because of their survival as a Romance People in a “Slavic sea,” in the way of migratory invader waves.

The Reign of Michael the Brave (1593 - 1601)

By the end of the 16th century, Ottoman suzerainty had become rather oppressive, particularly since the tribute and other obligations were increased. The princes of the three countries often found themselves overpowered by this Ottoman trusteeship, especially those in Wallachia, who were geographically more at risk. Higher reputation was enjoyed by the Transylvanian princes, and in particular by those in the Bathory family, one of whom (Stephen Bathory) even became king of Poland for a while (1576-1586). Transylvania was also safeguarded by the Carpathian mountain range and favored with the Habsburgs’ “protection.” The Ottomans were exerting a less oppressive suzerainty in Transylvania, lest they should provide a reason for the estates to appeal to the Habsburgs for protection. The latter were, however, looking for opportunities to take over Transylvania.

It was Wallachia, where the situation was the worst, that provided the rescue in voivode Michael who, in order to get to the throne in 1593, made an oath of allegiance to the Sultan and paid large sums of money at Istanbul (Constantinople). Yet, the moment he ascended the throne, Michael began to consolidate his internal power and prepared himself for the anti-Ottoman revolt. He brought his country into an alliance against the Turks called “The Holy League,” initiated by the Habsburgs. Among the allies were the Holy See, Spain, Venice, some Italian dukedoms, Transylvania and Moldavia. Under these circumstances, the Transylvanian prince proclaimed himself a kind of suzerain for the three countries known as the Dacia of the ancient time, as they were still frequently called, according to the spirit of the Renaissance.

Aided by the Transylvanians and in agreement with the voivode of Moldavia, Michael started the anti-Ottoman revolt in 1594, in Bucharest. With his own army of mercenaries and help from his allies the voivode of Wallachia won remarkable victories against the Turks and the Tartars both north and south of the Danube, arousing the hopes of the Christian peoples in the Balkans. The most famous is the battle of Cãlugãreni, August 23, 1595. Shortly after that battle, the Turks sued for peace and were obliged to acknowledge Michael as prince. Yet peace and quiet were temporary as long as Poland and Transylvania were inclined to conclude agreements with the Ottoman Empire against the Romanian voivode. In order to consolidate his country’s position, he signed a treaty with the Habsburg Empire (1598) which in a way balanced the situation. Still something else was needed, namely energetic enterprise, to enlarge the human, territorial and economic foundations of the monarchical institution, to consolidate the voivode’s power and ensure his real independence, particularly when faced with the Ottoman danger. Michael thought of bringing together under his own authority the three countries called by the humanists Dacia. They had the advantage of not being occupied by the Turks like the Balkan countries, a fact that offered the voivode greater freedom of action. Their economic systems were complementary, trade routes could easily cross the Carpathians, the Transylvanian merchants enjoyed privileges south and east of the Carpathians, the princes and boyars on these sides owned hundreds of cities, market towns and villages in Transylvania, the Romanian bishoprics in Transylvania were subordinated to the metropolitan churches in Moldavia and Wallachia, etc. An important fact was also the common ethno-demographic background: the Romanians were a majority in all the three countries. Consequently, in 1599, the Wallachian army, commanded by Michael the Brave (theoretically on behalf of the Habsburg Emperor), crossed the mountains into Transylvania and defeated the army of the local prince. The monarch of Wallachia was proclaimed Prince of Transylvania. In the year 1600, the same army crossed the mountains, this time to the east, and incorporated Moldavia in the new political structure. That is how, in the summer of 1600, at Iaºi (Jassy), Michael the Brave could suggestively call himself “Prince of Wallachia, of Transylvania and of the whole Moldavian country.” He had become, as his contemporaries appreciated in the spirit of the Renaissance, a restitutor Daciae, i.e., the prince that reconstituted ancient Dacia. He had rebuilt it, though, for the benefit of the Romanians, the offspring of the Romans, as some witnesses would timidly and indirectly notice, and as his successors would more and more openly emphasize. Still ruling in London at the time was Elizabeth I, founder, in the New World, of the colony of Virginia, the nucleus of the large American federation of the future.

The union did not last, as the Hungarian nobles, the Poles, the Habsburgs and the Ottomans were all opposing Michael, and because the rebuilding of Dacia in a modern spirit and with a Romanian prince as ruler could not, at that moment, have the benefits of the needed institutions. That is why the voivode who had caused the union to become a fact was treacherously assassinated with the nobility’s connivance on August 19, 1601, near Turda.

Michael the Brave did not act in a modern national spirit when he united the three countries, and he did not aim at creating the modern Romania, but he built up a solid foundation for the future Romania. In Transylvania he adopted measures in favor of the Romanians, meaning to ensure their equal standing with the other nations, and he established certain institutions common for the three countries. The estates, i.e., the official ruling minority, perceived the great danger and worked for Michael’ s downfall, for the abolition of his form of government, for the complete severance of relations with the two remaining Romanian countries. On the contrary, “encouraged by the prince of their own nation,” the Romanians rose against the nobility; they had gained a lasting hope-that of becoming free in their own country and of enjoying equal rights with the acknowledged nations. Later on, Michael the Brave became a modern national symbol of the Romanians, a kind of Founding Father, as important for them as the image of George Washington for the American mind.

Who is Dracula?
Over 500 years of facts, fiction and fascination
by Vladimir F. Werstman

When I came to the United States in the late 1960s, I could not understand why Dracula was, and still is, so popular in this country.

Many Americans, after hearing that I was from Romania, would ask me what I knew about Dracula, for it was virtually the only thing they identified with my native land. Moreover, the Dracula Americans had in their mind was very different from the “Dracula” I knew in my native Romania since early school days. To my American friends, Dracula meant a Transylvanian count-vampire, a fictional character from the novel Dracula (1897) by British author Bram Stoker. The count is a corpse during the day but comes to life at night in the shape of a huge bat, draws blood from the necks of sleeping victims, and turns them into blood-seeking vampires as well. After a series of horrifing adventures, Dracula is finally cornered by his enemies and killed; a stake is driven through his heart. Dracula’s Transylvanian world is portrayed as a dark, mysterious, and dangerous land, one filled with blood and violence.

My image of “Dracula” was a prince called Vlad the Impaler, who ruled the Romanian region of Wallachia between 1456 and 1462 and was assassinated by boyars in 1476. He became famous for his bloody rule; he used death by impaling against political opponents, robbers, and thieves. Dracula was a nickname (derived from the Romanian word dracul meaning devil) given to the prince because of his violent regime, which resulted in the brutal deaths of more than 20,000 Romanians. But is there any connection between the fictional and the historical Dracula?

There never could have been a fictional Dracula without the existence of an historical Dracula. Although more than 400 years had elapsed between Vlad the Impaler’s death and the publication of Stoker's book, the prince’s image survived and was continuously revised not only in Romania but also in several other countries.

Dracula stories depicting the cruelty of the Wallachian prince first circulated in Germany and became quite popular at the end of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth centuries. Dracula was also described in dark colors by some Hungarian writers. In France, Dracula was viewed as a ruler combining cruelty with heroism. This image was circulated by Walerand de Wavrin, who knew Dracula personaly and had fought in his army against the Turks. To England, Dracula's reputation had initially come via the narration of William of Wey a pilgrim to the Holy Land. In Russia Dracula was portrayed at the end of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth centuries as a basically heroic figure because he had fought against the Turks. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Hungarian writers invariably described Dracula in negative terms, and in compensation, Romanian men of letters presented him in favorable colors, stressing his patriotic aspects. Numerous poems, plays, novels, and historical works were recorded in Romania during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the majority of them highlighting his heroic deeds and downplaying his brutality. Nevertheless, Dracula's image and fame in the world is due to his non-Romanian portrayals, among which Stoker's novel represents the culmination. Stoker's novel has been translated into many languages and has remained continuously in print to this day.

Dracula prints appeared in Germany as early as 1485 and later were exhibited in England as well as in other countries. One of the prints, called “Dracula’s Feast” showed the prince taking his meals among impaled bodies. Other prints showed Dracula’s face with very detailed features, and after viewing these prints at the British Museum. Stoker wrote: “His face was strong, aquiline, with high bridge of the thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils: with lofty, domed forehead,and hair growing scantily round the temples, but profusely elsewhere. His eyebrows were massive, almost meeting over the nose, and with bushy hair that seemed to curl with profusion.

The mouth, so far as I could see under the heavy moustache, was fixed and rather cruel looking, with peculiarly sharp white teeth”. In this way the historical Dracula served as a prototype for Stoker's fictional one.
What happened after the publication of Stoke's novel surpassed any favorable predictions or the richest imagination. A dramatized version of the book appeared soon afterward on the stage at the Lyceum Theatre in London. It was followed by a major dramatization of Dracula (1924) at the Grand Theatre Derby in London, produced by Hamilton Deane, who acquired the sole dramatic rights from Bram Stoker's widow. Two years later, the play was so successful that its producer boasted of never having “a poor house”. In this production Dracula's role was interpreted by Edmund Blake, a well-known provincial actor who had a golden front tooth and a specially designed black cloak. In 1927 Dracula was staged at the Little Theatre in London, with Raymond Huntley interpreting the count-vampire. The play ran for 391 performances despite negative reviews from critics. The public was fascinated. Dracula captivated the imagination of the audiences to such a degree that one night 29 people fainted during the show. In 1939 the play was still running to full houses, and Hamilton Deane himself played the role of Dracula. His performance was so remarkable that one night noted actor Bela Lugosi himself walked on the stage and kissed Deane on both cheeks while the audience cheered. Since then various versions of Dracula have appeared on stages throughout the world.

The movie industry brought Dracula to the screen for the first time in 1923, in Nosferatu, a German silent movie directed by F. W. Murnau. Dracula's role was played in the movie by Max Schreck, who produced some memorable moments as the count-vampire rising from the coffin. Seven years later, the Transylvanian-born actor Bela Lugosi became famous when he interpreted the role of Dracula on the stage. Then, in 1931, he immortalized the character in the movie Dracula, produced by Universal Pictures and billed as “the first horror film”. The movie, still in release, became a classic unequalled by any other productions. Lugosi's Transylvanian accent gives authenticity to the film.

His portrayal of Dracula is so close to Stoker's character and so moving that nobody who sees the movie is ever able to forget its title character. Ironically, Lon Chaney, Sr., known in filmdom for his elaborate macabre roles, was slated to play Dracula, but in 1930 he died of cancer at the age of 47, the same age that the historical Dracula was assassinated. Thirteen years later, his son Lon Chaney, Jr. appeared as Dracula in a movie entitled The Son of Dracula.

Dozens of American and British movies have taken up the Dracula theme and given it a new twist. Dracula has been interpreted by several noted actors, including John Carradine, David Niven, and Jack Palance. In England, Christopher Lee successfully portrayed Dracula in a series of vampire movies and even became the leader of a Dracula society. One of the most popular music videos of all time, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” (1984), expropriated the Dracula image. Presently, there are about 500 Dracula movies in the world, of which more than 50 were produced in the United States and England. Other countries with a thriving Dracula film production include Spain, Japan, Turkey, Mexico, and, of course, Romania.

Dracula’s image has also been used for business purposes. Some examples include Dracula’s Feast, a Romanian restaurant that existed in New York City in the 1960s and 1970s, a Dracula nightclub in Switzerland, and a Dracula pub in Romania. There are Dracula toys, comic books, and other print and non-print works based upon the character. There is also a Count Dracula Society (1962- ), founded in Los Angeles, which unites professionals who are interested in serious studies devoted to horror films and gothic literarure. It has branches in several states and publishes a periodical, Count Dracula Quarterly. The society is affiliated with two other organizations interested in Dracula, The Noble Order of Count Dracula and The Order of the Golden Bat. In New York, the Count Dracula Fan Club (1965- ) is devoted to literary and historical aspects of Stoker's Dracula; it has a Dracula museum and is involved in publishing activities. The British Dracula Society/Societé du Comte Dracula ( 1973- ) keeps the papers of Bram Stoker, publishes a semi-annual Dracula Journal, and offers a forum for enthusiasts of gothic and supernatural literature and films. In the summer of 1995, the First World “Dracula”. Congress was held in Bucharest and in other localities in Transylvania.

Since the early 1980s,the government of Romania has sought to take advantage of worldwide interest in Dracula. It sponsors “Dracula Tours” that give tourists the opportunity to visit various spots connected with the historical and fictional Dracula. These tours have served to dispel many stereotypes and misconceptions; they place the figure of Dracula within the medieval historical con- text and help visitors to see how those within and outside the culture interpret and/or embellish the reality. The Romanian government also issued a set of special stamps of interest to fans and philatelists. The set was issued in 1959 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Bucharest, Romania’s capital. The stamps depict the historical “Dracula” and the charter issued by him on September 20, 1459, establishing the Wallachian village of Bucharest. After a fierce competition with other places, Bucharest later became a city and ultimately the nation’s capital.

After researching all the materials on Dracula, one may still ask: “Why is Dracula so popular, and why are people, old and young, women and men, so interested in him?” Several explanations can be cited. According to some opinions, Dracula - like many other horror characters, such as Frankenstein - brings healthy release from the mundane. Peter Wyngarde, the British author and interpreter of Dracula in a play called Pleasantly Frightening, thinks that the public will never tire of Dracula because he “represents the evil in all of us". His figure transcends its Romanian setting to cross nations and cultures. Noted British actor Christopher Lee, Dracula’s interpreter on the screen, believes that Dracula offers the illusion of immortality. “Men are attracted to him", remarks Lee, “because of the irresistible power he wields. For women, there is the complete abandonment to the power of men". Bela Lugosi revealed in one of his interviews that more than 97 percent of his fan mail came from women. In fact, one of Lugosi’s five wives married him solely because he interpreted Dracula so masterfully; she was said to have fallen in love with...Dracula. (The marriage, however, was short-lived.)

I am ready to stop here, but suddenly Dracula’s words - before he died in Stoker’s novel - come to mind: “You think to baffle me, you with your pale faces all in a row...You think you have left me without a place to rest, but I have more. My revenge has just begun. I spread it over centuries, and time is on my side.”

Who is Dracula?
Strange Coincidences and New Interpretations

In my previous article published in MultiCultural Review (June 1996) , I focused on the connection between the historical “Dracula” (Vlad the Impaler, a powerful Wallachian prince) and the fictional Dracula described by British author Bram Stoker in his novel with the same name. While the original prince played a major role in the development of Romania, the country from which I immigrated to the United States in 1967, his life was the source of great controversy. His cruel treatment of his enemies made him notorious at the time, but through the principle that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” he was hailed as a hero by some in Eastern Europe. In any case, the myth of Dracula spread and was embellished on in the four centuries between the prince’s death and the publication of Stoker’s novel, and in the century since. My earlier article explored the impact of Dracula in various spheres of life - literature, movies, television, music, tourism, philately - and discussed explanations for his popularity and significance. However, even though today we are able to draw a line between what is true - what actually happened - and what is the product of human imagination, there is still ample space for the mysterious, for unusual events, for further investigation and speculation affecting the heritage we receive from Dracula.

The Fictional Dracula

To begin, we must note that Bram Stoker’s wife, Florence, detested the fictional character created by her husband. She had several fights with her husband because of Dracula, threatened to divorce him, and after her husband’s death in 1912 promptly sold the novel’s and play’s copyrights for a relatively small sum. Little did she know that Dracula would capture the imagination of so many - young and old - from so many countries and for so many decades.

In the 1920s the play Dracula so deeply impressed the audience that one night at the Little Theater in London 29 people fainted during the show. Later, when the same play was presented in New York City, many journalists and even cast members had the feeling that Bela Lugosi, Dracula’s most famous interpreter and himself a native of the region that Prince Vlad once ruled, had a kind of Satanic power. They attributed to this power a host of inexplicable accidents that affected the presentation of the play. On opening night the theater manager suffered a severe case of anemia, possibly due to Dracula’s blood - sucking. He was taken to the hospital, though his medical records never showed such a condition in the past. Dorothy Peterson, the actress who interpreted the role of Lucy Harker, a Dracula victim in the updated version inspired by Stoker’s novel, lost her voice during the third performance. In Asbury Park, New Jersey, a publicity photographer taking pictures during the show claimed that he was actually dragged from the stage by an invisible force even though no person had approached him. This photographer had to stay in the hospital for over two months, suffering from a serious injury to his spinal cord as a result of the incident. After his death in 1956 Lugosi was laid out in the funeral parlor in a tuxedo and cape, as specified in his will. A mother dragged her little boy, who was always afraid of Dracula, to the coffin to show the child that Dracula was really dead. Needless to say, the child began screaming and crying and had to be removed from the room.

The Historical Dracula

Prince Vlad the Impaler was assassinated in 1476 by a group of pro - Turkish boyars who were dissatisfied with his rule. According to popular belief, “Dracula” (given that name because in Romanian the word dracul means “devil”) was decapitated and his head sent to the Turkish Sultan as proof of his death. For centuries, nobody knew where Dracula was buried. Only in 1931, after a long period of searching, did a Romanian archaeologist, Dinu Rosetti, discover a tomb in a monastery, near the altar. When the crypt was opened, there were a few rotten bones accompanied by a crown of white with blue stones, presumed to be Dracula’s. The discovery raises a crucial question. If Dracula was decapitated, it is very hard to assume that the monks who buried the prince put the crown in the crypt even though the head and most of the body were missing. Why were only a few rotten bones in the casket? What happened to the rest of the skeleton? Moreover, why would the boyar killers send Dracula’s head to Turkey and leave the crown behind unattended?

Also interesting to point out is that among the fifteenth-century Romanian rulers, Dracula is the only one whose image appeared on oil paintings by the artists of his time. In 1470 an Austrian painter completed “Saint Andrew’s Martyrdom,” which featured Dracula’s face as representing the evil spirit. The painting was only discovered five centuries later, in 1970, by pure chance. W. Peters, a Romanian-born researcher, was viewing medieval paintings at the Belvedere Palace in Vienna and recognized the visage of the historical prince.

In the nineteenth century, a leading Romanian painter, Theodore Aman, also devoted two of his paintings to the historical Dracula’s rule. One painting shows Dracula seizing some of his boyars’ political opponents, while the second depicts the nailing of turbans to the heads of Turkish ambassadors because the ambassadors neglected to take off their turbans in front of the prince, a gesture interpreted as a sign of disrespect to a Christian ruler. Of course, there is cruelty, but there is another message as well: the courage of a Romanian prince in showing the Turkish emissaries that he is not afraid of them as representatives of a great power. Although Prince Vlad’s regime led to the deaths of more than 20,000 Romanians, he came to be seen in nineteenth Century Romania as a kind of patriotic hero.

Dracula's Significance

I would like to conclude with the interpretation given to the fictional Dracula by two leading Romanian and American scholars, Radu Florescu and Raymond T. McNally, who have spent many years on the subject of Dracula. “The mere manufacture of an imaginary Shelley-type Frankenstein may represent,” according to these authors, “a fascinating intellectual gymnastics in terms of its horror, yet it can have little credibility.” The same authors believe that “the real fascination of Dracula lies in the fact that he existed, that he was real, that Transylvania can actually be found on the map.” They add that, “it was in disguise, rather than in his historic form, that Dracula assumed the status of universal archetype, which transcends the limitation of time and defies geographic localization and human morality.”

Recently, Nicolae Paduraru, President of the Transylvania Society of Dracula, founded in Romania in 1991, voiced another opinion: “Dracula belongs to folklore, not to history. Vlad’s shoes proved to be too small for such a gigantic archetype as Dracula. The great vampire could not be finished by modern weaponry, like Winchester rifles, but by folkloric means, by the secular wisdom that regulated our relationship with the natural and the supernatural.”