politically correct dracula

Bela_Lugosi_as_Dracula,_anonymous_photograph_from_1931,_Universal_Studios

as you probably already know, bram stoker’s count dracula was based upon vlad the impaler who, last time i checked, is famous for defending medieval southeastern europe against the invading ottoman turks…and is infamous for sticking thousands of those turks’ heads on spikes (and plenty of other people’s, too…who knew?!).

an exellent choice as far as inspirational-historic-individuals-for-evil-vampires goes, really!

vlad, like his father before him, was a member of the order of the dragon, sworn to:

“…crush the pernicious deeds of the same perfidious Enemy, and of the followers of the ancient Dragon, and (as one would expect) of the pagan knights, schismatics, and other nations of the Orthodox faith, and those envious of the Cross of Christ, and of our kingdoms, and of his holy and saving religion of faith, under the banner of the triumphant Cross of Christ….”

yeah. bit over the top, maybe, but the order was established to keep the turks at bay and keep (their approved version of) christianity as the rule of the day (it was the 1400s). a chivalric order. crusaders. like it or not, these are the guys who helped to keep europe european.

well, now, the new sky/nbc Dracula series has got

SPOILER AERT!

…count dracula (working with van helsing?!) seeking revenge on the order of the dragon guys ’cause they’re all bad guys…apparently they were in the middle ages, and they still are in the late-1800s when dracula is “resurrected.”

no, no, no. don’t mess with the story like THAT! *facepalm* making it totally politically correct. *sheesh*

is NOTHING sacred anymore?! =/

oh, and like stephen king (sorta) said: vampires should be scary, not sparkly. but that’s a whole other discussion.

(note: comments do not require an email. dracula.)

Advertisements

18 Comments

  1. Yeah I think the translation was garbled. If I understand correctly, Vlad was a member of the Order of the Dragon, which was pro-Orthodox and anti-Muslim/Catholic. This kind of implies that Dragons are good, so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to identify the Dragon with the Enemy. I don’t understand what the symbolic significance of the Dragon is, however, since usually in Christian symbolism the Dragon IS identified with the Enemy, i.e. the Devil. Unless “Order of the Dragon” means “Order of (those who oppose) the Dragon”.

    And if he was pro-Orthodox, it’s a little misleading to call him a “crusader”, since the original Crusaders were Catholics and famously non-picky about whether they slaughtered Muslims or Orthodox Christians.

    Reply

  2. Actually, reading the wikipedia entry on the Order of the Dragon, it was founded by the (Catholic) King of Hungary, but had both Orthodox and Catholic members, who I guess were engaged in fighting the common enemy, i.e. the Turks. So I guess they were kind of proto-ecumenists.

    Interestingly, Vlad Tepes was himself ethnically Romanian, but in the Stoker novel Count Dracula is ethnically Hungarian, and makes a big deal out of that, too (with a lot of romantic, ahistorical nonsense about how the original Magyars were Nordics, hardened in the cold wastes of Iceland etc etc). It kind of reflects the new sociological situation in Transylvania, which in the 1400s was still almost entirely Romanian, but by the 19th century had a significant Hungarian population that socially and economically dominated the Romanians.

    Reply

  3. Oh, the significance of the Dragon is an allusion to St George’s killing of the dragon, so it does mean the order of those who oppose the dragon. I’m still unclear on whether the Order was pro- or anti-Orthodox based on that confusing translation.

    Reply

  4. Christian knights fighting to defend Europe = baddies
    Undead blood-suckers = goodies
    Hmm…

    Reply

  5. @ Jonathan Gress
    Transylvania, which in the 1400s was still almost entirely Romanian, but by the 19th century had a significant Hungarian population that socially and economically dominated the Romanians.
    That is kind of not true.
    Look at the ethnic map at the 11th century. map11
    By the late 13th century many Saxons were invited to Transylvania, so you can see them along with Hungarians and Romanians. map13th
    There was probably no time in history when Transylvania was almost entirely Romanian (except for the early middle ages if you accept Daco-Roman continuity – which requires some faith or Romanian education).

    Reply

  6. Ah, you see how these myths perpetuate. Nador (a Hungarian name) gives a link to a map that tells us that there were no Romanians in Transylvania in the 11th C. They were all Hungarians and Slavs. That is the standard Magyar claim – that when they arrived in Transylvania around 1000 AD it was empty. Not even an acknowldgement that perhaps the shepherds retreated into the Carpathians in the presence of armed invaders. Sigh. I am willing to give some credit to so many Eastern European claims, if they didn’t always insist on granting 0% credit to the others. Note the slam at Romanian education.

    Hungarians, Saxons, Roma, Hutsuls, Jews, Slavs (Serbs and Ruthenians, mostly), Csekely (a type of Hungarian), and even some Turks and Greeks were present in Transylvania, in addition to the Romanians. I doubt there is anyone in the Banat who is of only one strain anymore.

    As for Vlad, he learned that trick of putting heads on pikes from the Turks themselves. When he was a young prince he was held hostage there after his father was defeated in one series of battles. When the Europeans from farther west learned of his -heh- draconian tactics, they were horrified and thought him a monster, if a convenient one for protecting Budapest and Beograd. The Turks, not so much. They had seen this before and rather admired this opponent.

    Reply

  7. @puzzle pirate – “If only Sherlock would come back… *sigh*”

    january 19th on pbs! (^_^) yay!

    probably earlier in the u.k. (and *ahem* in certain dark corners of the internet…).

    Reply

  8. @jonathan – “Actually, reading the wikipedia entry on the Order of the Dragon, it was founded by the (Catholic) King of Hungary, but had both Orthodox and Catholic members….”

    ah ha! i missed that when i looked at the wikipedia entry. thanks!

    @jonathan – “I’m still unclear on whether the Order was pro- or anti-Orthodox based on that confusing translation.”

    hmmmm. further research is required! (^_^)

    Reply

  9. @assistant village idiot – “As for Vlad, he learned that trick of putting heads on pikes from the Turks themselves. When he was a young prince he was held hostage there after his father was defeated in one series of battles.”

    yes, that’s right! learned from the masters. =/

    Reply

  10. @ Assistant Village Idiot

    I objected to the claim, that before the 15th century Transylvania was purely Romanian. You seem to agree with that. I never said that Transylvania was empty. You seem to assume malice on my part for no reason. Why?

    Reply

  11. Bell Stoker was in my daughter’s high school class. We had her up to dinner when she first came to town (she was a boarding student) to get her used to the scary city of Chattanooga. I didn’t know doodly about the Dracula connection then, but could tell she was hiding something!

    Reply

  12. Nador – the link you included, as I noted, shows no Romanians present in the 11th C. I agree that you did not say that. If you didn’t mean that, but linked to something that does which you hadn’t considered fully, I can hardly object strenuously, as I have done so myself at times. But I can only go on the data you give me, and that is what you gave. However, if you say there was no malice, I will take you at your word.

    I usually find Magyars easier to speak with than Romanians, BTW. But in the time I spent in Bihor (and Budapest to Cluj in general) I grew more than a little irritated about the whole subject. If I was quick to judge, I apologise.

    Reply

  13. Assistant Village Idiot,

    Yes, the 11th century map does not indicate any Romanians, but I am willing to accept that they were also present at the time. Frankly, I only know that the extent of their presence is disputed. As far as I know the archaeological evidence is sparse and not definite. My intention was only to show that Transylvania was not purely Romanian before the 15th century, and could not quickly find any better maps…
    I am also aware of the rather one-sided historical interpretations in this region.

    Reply

  14. I think you are wrong about the impaling that Vlad did. Killing someone, cutting off their head and putting it on a stake isn’t so bad. Its certainly milder than the fate of Guy Fawkes – whose head I think also ended up on a stick.

    My understanding is that Vlad took live men and tied them on a long stake placed in their anus. Their body weight slowly lowered them down to a very painful death. I seem to remember that Vlad ate dinner on a balcony overlooking a courtyard of impalees.

    Reply

  15. @patrick – “My understanding is that Vlad took live men and tied them on a long stake placed in their anus. Their body weight slowly lowered them down to a very painful death. I seem to remember that Vlad ate dinner on a balcony overlooking a courtyard of impalees.”

    you know, i think you’re right, and i was wrong about that. i remember reading about this impaling business before — and for some reason i blocked it from my memory! can’t imagine why…. (thanks for reminding me! (~_^) )

    that’s why he’s called “vlad the impaler” after all and not “vlad the sticker-of-heads-upon-sticks.”

    ugh. gruesome! =/

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s