Who was Dracula?
Thoughts on Vlad Tepes by Melodie Romeo
All characters, even villains, are multifaceted individuals with strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures, virtues and vices. I found the same to be true of Vlad Tepes, history’s Dracula.
Prince Vlad of Walachia (1431-1476) was a capable strategist and military leader who defeated one of the greatest conquerors of his day, a pro-autonomist who desired to raise his principality to full nation status, a shrewd politician who knew how to play one adversary off another… but he was also a sadistic murderer, a sociopath and psychopath, and a brutal despot with enough mental disorders to keep a modern psychiatrist in business for years.
Maybe it started when as a youth he and his younger brother were sent to Constantinople as hostages. Radu was favored by the Turks, loved by the harem girls, and nick-named “Radu the handsome,” while they merely tolerated Vlad. Who wants his little brother getting all the attention? Perhaps it was his lust for power; his father had been Prince of Walachia, but when he and his older brother were killed, Vlad took it upon himself to seize control in the region which was not a simple task.
There were three priorities Vlad believed he must achieve in order to rise from ruler of a principality to king of a nation: eliminate crime, erase poverty, and establish favorable trade contracts. He accomplished those by instituting the death penalty for every offense, killing off all the poor people, and executing foreign merchants. To a small degree, there was a method to his madness. That, however, did not account for his literal thirst for blood and glee in torturing people to death.
All of the Vlad stories related in Tribute in Blood come from original documents dating back to the 15th century, and though instances may have been exaggerated, historians generally consider them accurate because many chroniclers from different countries repeated the same tales. It was during his six-year reign (1456-1462) that Vlad perpetrated his most notorious acts of cruelty: the impaling of the boyars, the naked children rebuilding the fortress, the St. Bartholomew’s massacre, the utter destruction of Transylvania in search of Dan, and his strict enforcement of the death penalty for all offenses. In the words of a German chronicler: “he invented frightening, terrible, unheard of tortures. He ordered that women be impaled together with their suckling babies on the same stake. The babies fought for their lives until they finally died. Then he had the women’s breasts cut off and put the babies inside head first; thus he had them impaled together.” Another German account stated: “Early in the morning he gave orders that men and women, young and old alike, should be impaled... at the foot of the mountain. He then sat down at a table in their midst and ate his breakfast with great pleasure.”
Even the Freudian analysis of his personality has been suggested by various Vlad historians. It seems evident from the writings and his behavior that Dracula hated women. And it has been professionally proposed that his fascination with impaling could stem from his own feelings of masculine inadequacy. Whatever the reasons, he seemed to place harsher penalties on female offenders than on males. The story of murdering his mistress included in the novel is well documented.
None of this came as a surprise to discover. Anyone who was so despicable of an excuse for a human being as to become the inspiration for the most famous blood-sucking vampire of them all very likely was a real-life monster. However, a few things surprised me. First was that he only ruled for a little over six years total. His first attempt at usurping power lasted a mere few weeks and his last seat on the throne only a few months. It was during this final reign that most of Tribute in Blood takes place as my hero and heroine orchestrate and carry out his demise. Vlad managed to kill over 100,000 people, twenty percent of his entire population, in that short a span.
It also struck me he only lived to be forty-five. True, the average lifespan was lower than that at the time, but nobility and royalty usually outlived their common counterparts. Then again, Vlad did not die of natural causes. As the Bible says, “he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.” Vlad was assassinated by person or persons unknown, which was very convenient to build a plot around!
The third thing that surprised me to learn about Vlad Dracula was that many people living in Romania at the time and still today consider him a national hero. They seem to sweep his brutal blood-lust under the rug while extolling the virtues of his military victories. It is true that he turned back a Turkish invasion of Eastern Europe in a terrifying manner that only the famed Impaler could have pulled off, but as the heroes in my novel point out: “Mehmed only requires a tribute of gold. Vlad demands his tribute in blood.”
Wow. That was fascinating Melodie! I knew he was based on a real character, but I really had no idea how awful a real character... how short a reign, how young a death... Strange facts indeed in a world where erasing poverty (by whatever means) and establishing trade might still be viewed as the road to authority. Thank you!
About the author:
Melodie Romeo, who also writes under the pen name Edale Lane, is the author of the award winning 2019 novel, Heart of Sherwood, and the Night Flyer Trilogy. As Melodie Romeo, she has written Vlad a Novel (soon to be re-released as Tribute in Blood), Terror in Time, and others. She founded Past and Prologue Press in 2019. Both identities are qualified to write historical fiction by virtue of an MA in History and 24 years spent as a teacher, along with skill and dedication in regard to research. She is a successful author who also currently drives a tractor-trailer across the United States. A native of Vicksburg, MS, Melodie is also a musician who loves animals, gardening, and nature.
Find her here: Twitter: @EdaleLane
Official Site: https://pastandprologuepress.lpages.co/
About Tribute in Blood:
Tribute in Blood, a Tale of Vlad the Impaler, by Melodie Romeo (previously released under the title, Vlad, a Novel)
The most terrifying horrors are revealed in the pages of history.
After killing over 100,000 people during his first reign as Prince of Walachia, Vlad has returned, ready to inflict tortuous death on anyone he chooses. Only Nicolae and Maria, drawn together through mutual tragedies both inflicted by the ruthless Prince Dracula, dare try to stop him. Can Nicolae fulfill his plan of justice and revenge while winning the heart of the lovely Maria, or will he become the Impaler’s next victim?
With heart-stopping danger at every turn, detailed historical accuracy combined with fictional characters, and a myriad of surprises, Tribute in Blood is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. Order this historical thriller-romance today!
Find it here:
Amazon Print Version: https://www.amazon.com/Tribute-Blood-Tale-Vlad-Impaler/dp/B08DC5YFTL/
Barnes and Noble Link: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tribute-in-blood-melodie-romeo/1137395978?ean=9798668904129
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