Vlad Dracula is known everywhere for being the first frightening vampire.But what is a "vampire" ? What made him such a scary villain? And what other stories exist about Vlad's cruelty?
Everybody has their own image of a vampire in their mind. According to what the old folk say , they are tall , particularly strong creatures , all dressed in black and possess sharp fangs that they use to suck their victims blood. It is also said that they belong to an old aristocratic family. They possess an unusual seductive power over women as well as the power to transform themselves into bats and wolves , and to control the weather. They consume human blood and are always hungry , but can survive for months between feedings. It is also believed that they never get old because the blood that they consume keeps them young. They don't have a reflection when they look into mirrors and do not cast shadows either.
In spite of this powers, they have weaknesses as well. It is believed that they are repelled by garlic and will disintegrate if they come into contact with daylight. They are also afraid of religious symbols and crucifixes.Vampires can only sleep in a tomb near their birthplace.They can be killed by a wooden stake driven through their heart.
The legend also says that their presence in the house can be noticed by a mist , but they can not enter a home unless invited.
Vlad , as a ruler ,was famous for his particularly slow and painful method of punishing criminals .
He used to impale his victims on stakes. Vlad's men took care that the stake was not too sharp so that the victim wouldn't die rapidly. The decaying bodies were left up on the stakes for months so that everybody could see them and think before making the same mistake. Usually he tortured boyars (noblemen) with this method ( it's possible that they were punished as a revenge for being disloyal; boyars caused the death of his father and brother , and later they betrayed him as well ). In 1459 , 30,000 merchants and boyars of Brasov were impaled at the same time. People say that he sometimes even derived a perverted pleasure from what he did.
After the campaign against Vlad Tepes even the sultan ( Mohammed the second ) , overwhelmed with anger, said that he couldn't take the land of a man that does great things and who masters his kingdom and his people better than himself. He also said that a man who is this successful would be worthy of doing more.
( Laonicus Chalcocondylas - about Vlad Tepes )
Once he killed all the people who didn't have any property under the cynical pretext of "nobody will be poor in my realm , but everybody wealthy"
( Cronicile slavo-române , p.209 )
It is also said in russian narrative that in captivity he often captured mice and birds and tortured them. He impaled some on tiny spears.
Vlad gave a greater value to honesty than to life.A story tells that a golden cup was left in the central square of Targoviste and during his whole reign nobody dared to touch it , much less steal the cup. If somebody would have taken it , they probably would have ended up on a stake.
Another anecdote talks about a foreign merchant that once visited Targoviste.160 golden ducats were stolen from him over night. The next day he went to complain to Vlad. He threatened the city with destruction if they wouldn't find the thief and turn him over. Then he ordered that 161 golden ducats be given to the merchant from his own treasury. In the meantime , the thief was captured. When the merchant came back to Vlad to tell that he got one more ducat than had been stolen from him , he was shown the thief impaled on a stake.Vlad said that he would have had the same fate if he hadn't returned single ducat.
Obviously they have the same name. The two have lots in common , beginning with their "pleasure" in torturing people and animals.A vampire can be killed only by driving a wooden stake through his heart ( according to legend ) , while Vlad is famous for his painful impalement methods. It is also possible that Dracula's fear of holy objects is related to Vlad's religions change ( he became catholic after his imprisonment in Hungary ).