Ever since Bram Stoker penned his novel Dracula in 1897, tales of the supernatural blood-sucking vampire have continued to fascinate the public for centuries.
The classic horror character has also given way to countless comics, books, television series, movies, and even consumer products that keep the spine-tingling tale alive.
But, Stoker’s true inspiration for Dracula is perhaps even more unsettling than the character themself. It was a man named Vlad III, who was the Prince of Wallachia, better known as “Vlad the Impaler.”
Vlad The Impaler
Vlad III was born in Transylvania in 1431– a region that is now modern-day Romania. And interestingly, his father and ruler of Wallachia, Vlad II, had the surname “Dracul.”
This last name, which meant “dragon,” was given to Vlad II after he was inducted into a Christian military order known as the Order of the Dragon.
But, Stoker did not just get some name inspiration from Vlad III’s father. Instead, the author dove deep into Vlad III’s treacherous past– which really began around the age of ten.
In 1442, Transylvania and Wallachia were no strangers to bloody battles since they were located between Christian Europe and the Ottoman Empire. In turn, as Ottoman forces tried to move west into Europe, Vlad III’s homeland was often caught in the middle.
Anonymous, Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons; pictured above is a painting of Vlad