26 December 2007

Bram Stoker's Dracula movie

The final scene from Bram Stoker's Dracula:

22 December 2007

Vlad Tepes vs Bram Stoker's Count Dracula

This amatorial documentary aims to present the similarities and differences between Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler) and Count Dracula - the famous character of Bram Stoker's book.
The movie is done by some kids, but it is pretty amusing and they present well documented data, starting with Vlad's birth in sighisoara, up to his reigns. The most interesting and original part is the one comparing the real Vlad Dracula with Sotker's Count Dracula.

15 December 2007

Vlad the Impaler - The True Story of Dracula

Here is a documentary called "Vlad the Impaler - The True Story of Dracula". It begins with mentioning some facts that I'm also presenting as more as I can. They exagerate when saying the Castle of Bran has absolutely no connection with the story of Vlad the Impaler. In fact is very probable Vlad stopped by once or twice. While the guy mentiones he visited the Castle on his research trip to Transylvania he presents The Cross on Caraiman Mountains (Bucegi Mountains) so everyone could mistakenly associate the Cross with Transylvania. But NO it is not in Transylvania, it is in Wallachia. And the look down to Prahova Valley is on the rivers' flow in Wallachia. Then it presents Braşov city, strongly connected with Vlad the Impaler.

06 December 2007

Lost world of Dracula

Vlad’s psychological war against the Turks take every possible form and reach its apex with the scene of Târgovişte where Mehmet, a man used to the horrors of an war sees a scene that terrifies him: a field of 20.000 impaled men in front of Vlad's Palace. This gives rise to Vlad’s Turkish nickname: Kaziklu Bey – The Impaler Warlord.

Vlad has retreated into the mountains, in Poienari Castle, from where he runs in Transylvania. He will return on the Wallachian throne for a short period. In 1476 Dracula dies in a battle against the Turks, around Bucharest, but the cause of his death are still unknown.
Three are the most probable causes of Vlad Dracula’s death:
· he gets killed by a paid man or
· he really dies fighting an enemy or
· he climbs a small hill to see his army throwing away the Turkish army, as he has the habitude to change clothes , wearing enemy’s clothes. Some of his men did not recognize him and killed him by mistake.
Anyway, while his “official” thumb is in Snagov Monastery, a monastery in the middle of a lake, there is no body there. Now there is a mystery to clear out: as mentioned by Matei Cazacu in his book in 1933 a thumb is found with a body that was wearing the purple coat, with golden needlecrafts. The archaeologists (Dinu Rosetti e George Florescu) could easily notice they were facing the thumb of a man wearing a purple or green coat, and they were sure they have seen the true thumb of Vlad Dracula – the Impaler. However, the so documented History Channel didn't mention this and I'm seriously asking myself: "why ?". However we know from historical sources that Dracula has been decapitated and his head sent to the Sultan as a proof of his death. But the Turks were only cutting the skin, therefore letting the skull (cranium).

Here is the very good documentary:

03 December 2007

Vlad Dracula

In 1459 Vlad Dracula engaged in a campaign of terror, so cruel that his name will be remembered over centuries. In fact is in 1457 that he crossed the Carpathians for the first time and punished the Saxons in Mediaş, Sibiu, Braşov. I know no proof that he grouped his troops together in Bran Castle as the documentary mentions. He intended to punish the Saxon merchants in Braşov, medieval Transylvania’s richest and most well defended town. Today’s Braşov gives few clues about the events that unfolded here 550 years ago. What the documentary don’t mention, is that the reason of the attack over the Saxon towns is more complex than simple revenge: they shelter Dan III, pretending Wallachia’s throne. On the Easter week of 1460 Dan III and his troops march through Vlad’s army but gets defeated and gets his head cut off. Vlad‘s attack on the city of Braşov was not an easy one. A huge wall, thick almost 14 feet in some places was surrounding the city. There were bastions at regular intervals. We get acquainted with the medieval fortification system. A multi-level wooden gallery was built on the inner part of the wall. Into the outside walls there are arrow slits and loopholes, that were later been used for canons and for musketry.

Dracula, that grew up in the Saxon town of Sighişoara knows the Saxons very well, as well as them way of fighting. He avoids a frontal attack, instead take them by surprise attacking by night, before they can retread behind the thick walls. Everyone he catches is impaled on the surrounding hills. Thousands died, according to some later Saxon stories. The attack over Braşov inspires the most infamous of the few images of Vlad: the forest of the impaled, with him, Dracula, taking his lunch/dinner in the middle of corpses. However there is proof that he drunk blood or had canibalic acts. Is known the image is an exageration of Germans, that wanted to present Vlad as the Evil in person.

Once Braşov subdued, Vlad turns his attention to the Ottoman Empire. Vlad Dracula is determined to resist the Turks. He concentrates his building efforts on South. He built his palace in Bucharest, on an important commercial route. As the Turks could attack in any moment, he built it in a hurry, with the best specialists available. He took the best stone-masons and approximately 1000 workers to make sure the palace is erected quickly. This is a very functional fortress, opposed to the exotic palace one could expect from Dracula. Later rulers rebuilt and extended it, to reach what we know today as the old court. But hidden in the building’s foundation are clues to its history.

With the country secured by these palaces and castles, Vlad Dracula begins planning for war. In his fortification in Târgovişte he receives a delegation of the Ottomans, claiming for tribute. He refuses to pay the tribute, and ordered the envoys to remove them turbans. When they answer they never remove them turbans he nailed them to them heads so they could really never remove them turbans. After a striking campaign in the winter of 1461 Vlad returns to the safety of his fortification at Târgovişte.

Here is the History Channel documentary :

Vlad's flee in Transylvania, his last reign and his death.

02 December 2007

Poienari Castle.

Third part of the documentary made by History Channel about Vlad the Impaler (Dracula).
Well, here today I have a pretty bad Internet connection, therefore I started posting after seeing just a part of the documentary. I thought it starts with what could be considered a mistake, made by many, probably due to the images presented in the German brochures that made Dracula famous in the XV-th century. I'm talking about the shape of the stakes: many historians (like Matei Cazacu, for example, consider the stakes where not sharpen at the top, as presented here and in every image one could see. The technique of impaling was perfected by Vlad and others, therefore the stakes were having a rounded top, so the impaled did not have the internal organs destroyed (that would have lead to a faster death). However, the next seconds give my confidence in History Channel’s documentaries back. Here you can read more about impaling.
The story of building Poienari Castle - the real castle Dracula is presented, with unforeseen images of how the castle looked before. The castle is built on the strategic place, from where the valley going to Vlad's Capital, Târgovişte, can be surveyed, but also the Valley descending from Făgăraş Mountains, that's from the neighbor Transylvania., where the merchants are threatening Vlad Dracula’s grip on power.
Since Vlad need to build to castle swiftly he relies on unconventional techniques and slave labor.
The Castle of Poienari seems to have started during Vlad's father, Vlad Dracul, but Dracula is the one that fortifies it. The Castle not only occupies to whole summit of the Poienari hill, but enlarges it. The walls surrounding the castle, still visible today, give it the strange appearance. The unusual building structure is made up of red brick, sitting on top of gray stone base. The walls are 9 feet thick, just imagine !! This was achieved by using a byzantine construction method: first of all the two external walls were built in brick, then infill the walls with stones. This combination was resulting in an absolutely powerful structure. What tights the walls together, so they made it thru the centuries was the lime mortar –the secret of Poienari castle’s survival in an area that is very close to an earthquake zone – the earthquakes took place in another area in Carpathians, Vrancea, in the Carpathian’s arch, only 200 km away from Poienari. It has the property that it does not completely set, but allows the walls to move, that is very useful in this earthquake situation. Therefore they don’t suffer severe cracks and damages as it would if it were cement. The construction methods used show that master builders must have been involved, as the techniques used are really advanced.
Everything needed to build Poienari Castle was available in the river valley below: sand for mortar, gravel and small rocks for the byzantine wall filler, steady river-stones that formed the castle’s base. When finished , the castle offer an almost perfect security and the control over a key strategic pass in the mountains, between Transylvania and Wallachia.

01 December 2007

History of Dracula

From the History Channel, the second episode of "The Lost World of Dracula":

It starts with the presentation of Bran Castle, where Vlad Dracula stopped by in 1415. The castle has been modernized by the Romanian Royal Family (remember, Bran Castle belonged to the royal family in the first half of the XX-th century), so its interior is very different from what it was in middle-ages. But, by using floor plans of the castle the experts pieced together how it looked 500 years ago.

Here is a simulated image of Bran Castle, obtained by high class computer simulation. Compare it with a picture of the nowadays Bean Castle and you'll be amazed of how different it is. It was not the gothic castle that we see today, but a strong, secured border castle. Placed of the Transylvanian border with Wallachia, the castle occupies a strategic place. However, building the castle was a huge undertaking. The territory was not allowing easy construction and the first difficulty was getting the stuff on the place.
What few people know is that Dracula, in order to build-up his dream (a strong, independent country of Wallachia) , he had started one of the most ambitious building programs in his small country.

A team of experts explore Vlad's construction projects. After seizing the throne of the princedom of Wallachia, in 1456 , he began an extensive building project, trying to impose order in an unruly land.

Vlad III set his capital city in Târgovişte. Is the place where most of Dracula's atrocities took place. in the XV-th century the rule was pretty very simple in politics: kill or be killed . Vlad's first thought was getting rid of the boyars, that were representing the power in the country, changing the ruling prince upon them wish. The princely court in Târgovişte is strengthened, he build something more imposing than every building erected before. The whole complex was surrounded by walls of 5 feet thick. The construction was made up of cellars. The arches, typical for the byzantine architectural style of building, were constructed using a timber framework and helped creating huge volumes. Once Târgovişte was transformed in a highly secured head-quarter, Dracula had begun exterminating his enemy boyars.

The documentary is to be watched more that once:

See also: