15 February 2007

Sighişoara - birth place of Vlad III Dracula

Sighişoara in the medieval era

Before presenting Dracula’s life I think it would be interesting to have an idea about the nice town he lived in: Sighisoara. Attested for the first time in 1280 under the name of Castrum Seg (the town on the hill – in Hungarian Seg means hill). Although I encountered many times the name of Castrum Sex, I prefer to use Castrum Seg (sincerely I haven’t seen the original document). From which Segsburg and the actual German name Schassburg, with the same meaning, the town on the hill. Is easily understandable the name, as it is really placed on a small hill, near Târnava River. One would have to climb the clock tower to have a perfect view of the geography of the place. Even the Romanian name seems to come from the Hungarian name (Segesvár)

Fourteen square towers were placed on the wall protecting the citadel. A second defending wall has been built around the lower town by the end of the XIVth century.
During Vlad‘s life the town was counting about 2000 inhabitants, so much fewer than Braşov (6000) and Sibiu (4000). The first official census, dates from the end of the XVth century. Sighişoara was sheltering 638 families, so about 3000 inhabitants. The majority of them were Saxons (hospites in Latin), 600 families.

The inhabitants were organized in guilds (bresle in Romanian). Each guild was having it's own tower. They were shoe-makers, coopers, goldsmiths, tinsmiths, spurs-makers, woodcarvers, leather dressers, butchers, carpenters, etc. Nowadays some of the towers are still preserved, and, more than this, still inhabited.

The town was being governed by a local judge, with power over the 16 neighboring communities forming the Stuhl (headquarter of the justice).The judge was seconded by the mayor and the local council (formed of 12 wise old-men). The population was speaking one of the Germanic dialects called Saxons. This was common to the 35 villages around, grouped in three ecclesiastic communities.

What characterized the Saxons in the 240 German villages is Transylvania is although the clothes they used to wear. As mentioned by Dávid FRÖLICH in Medulla Geographiae Practicae (1639) the men’s clothes are almost identical to the Hungarians’, except the men like larger clothes. The sacerdotes were using a purple coat, a blue or red belt, a dark-color cape called “reverenda”. The women were wearing tight clothes, with the shoulders uncovered.

A short video from a parade of middle-age wearing in Sighisoara is to be seen here:
The quality of the video is not the best, but at least we can have an idea:


Heidi Henderson Author said...

I was in Romania last year. One night we were driving from Tigu Mures to Bucharesti and passed throught he town of Sighisoara. I asked my driver to stop so I could find a washroom. I chose a little hotel in an alley which I think was Villa Frankenstein... or we may have just called it that in jest. I came out just as a pack of wild dogs ran down this stone staircase. My driver pulled me out of the way, saying they were dangerous. Startled, I thanked him and ehen I looked up I noticed the castle, all eerie in the moonlight. He thought I was joking when I said I didn't know who it belonged to. "Vlad, you know, Dracula." So my first sighting was in the middle of the night with wild dogs and a full moon. Perfect!

Radu said...

Thanks for your comment Heidi !
It looks like a real adventure that night in Sighişoara. Spooky enough :)

As a matter of fact Sighişoara did not belong to Vlad Dracul, he was born there but spend only his childhood in Sighişoara.

Anyway, your holidays in Romania confirmed a brand that the Romanian Minister of Tourism is trying to promote "Romania. Always surprising" ;)

Claudia said...

Hey that a really great post.


Radu said...

Thanks Claudia, and sorry for the late answer. I promise to check the comments more often...