Inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula was ‘not all that bad and simply misunderstood’ a new exhibition has claimed
By NICK PISA Last updated at 11:39 PM on 11th July 2010
The inspiration behind the blood sucking Count Dracula was not all that bad and simply misunderstood, a new exhibition has claimed.
Prince Vlad the Impaler, who hailed from Transylvania, was the inspiration for author Bram Stoker’s classic 1897 book Count Dracula which went on to spawn dozens of films.
In an attempt to shake off the negative image of the evil Count , Romania ‘s National Museum of Art in Bucharest is putting on a three month exhibition of paintings and manuscripts on prince Vlad Tepes the Impaler.
Christopher Lee in the 1958 horror film Dracula which was inspired by Bram Stoker’s novel
Curator Margot Rauch said: ‘The exhibition is based on historical studies showing that the legends related to Vlad Dracula were aimed at presenting eastern Europe as a primitive land and a source of evil.
‘Vlad Dracula was doubtlessly cruel, but not more so than other princes of his time. In fact he was a victim of bad propaganda from his western European peers.’
Called ‘Dracula – Voivode and Vampire’, the exhibit for the first time puts on display in Romania portraits of Vlad Tepes, who reigned twice, between 1456-1462 and then in 1476.
Bram Stoker’s classic 1897 book Count Dracula went on to spawn dozens of films
Manuscripts and engravings depicting him as a ‘blood-thirsty tyrant’ are also on display – among them is one showing him eating his breakfast in front of dozens of prisoners impaled on sharpened stakes.
A large part of the exhibition is devoted to vampirism, several alleged cases of which were reported in the early 18th century, especially in southeastern Europe .
Ms Rauch added that Prince Vlad’s reputation as a vampire was no doubt down to Stoker’s novel but added: ‘It’s time to see Vlad Dracula in another light than that given by Hollywood
Bran Castle in Transylvania was a temporary residence of Prince Vlad the Impaler
‘ Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, to give him his proper title, died in 1476 aged 45 years old and he was known for his resistance against the Ottoman Empire and for the cruel punishments he imposed on his enemies.
In a letter written in 1462 after a particularly bloodthirsty campaign he wrote: ‘I have killed men and women, old and young… 23,884 Turks and Bulgarians without counting those whom we burned alive in their homes or whose heads were not chopped off by our soldiers.’
His Russian surname was Dracula and this coupled with his blood thirsty reputation was the inspiration behind Stoker’s classic – Vlad himself was captured by the Turks, executed and his body displayed on a stake.