and the Scottish Independence Movement

Halloween has come and gone for another year. Over the past 7-decades, I have been all sorts of creatures myself in my early years, then raised 3-children in my middle years who were varying characters, and have seen my three grandchildren in my older years get excited about what they will be when Halloween arrives.

This year, my kids and grandkids were at their homes while the neighbor children visited our home. Most of the trick-or-treaters were very young children except for a handful of teenagers. One teenager in particular caught my attention. He was Dracula with all the accoutrements. I attempted to be funny by asking who he was; his reply was that he was the Impaler. And thus became my personal interest in Dracula. I bet very few Americans know that Dracula was often referred to as the Impaler. However, many knew him as the Impaler in Transylvania. Did you know that?

Bram_Stoker Bram Stoker
My first real knowledge of Dracula beyond Halloween was from Bram Stoker's novel. Interestingly, Stoker had some medical problem prior to starting school. No one is sure what his problem was, but he did not start school prior to when he was 7-years old. However, years later, he expressed what he gained from that illness. Back in his day, this is what he said, "I was naturally thoughtful, and the leisure of long illness gave opportunity for many thoughts which were fruitful according to their kind in later years." Today, we refer to it as no pain no gain.

Stoker wrote between 1875-1914. He enjoyed the sensationalism of the gothic and horror story milieu. However, he was not alone...there were other writers of his time in both Great Britain and America that also enjoy that style. H. G. Wells, Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, and others were into the action thriller, which often included some sort of invasion especially of England.

First edition cover of  Dracula First edition cover of Dracula
Stoker spent 7-year researching the storyline of Dracula. After spending a great deal of time exploring the main character, he published the novel in 1897. The storyline is that Dracula wanted to immigrate to England from Transylvania. Jonathan Harker, who is a lawyer dealing with real estate issues, travels to meet with Dracula in Transylvania to finalize the sale. However, Dracula keeps him a prisoner in the castle, which results in Harker's observation of Dracula's bizarre behavior after the sun goes down. During his imprisonment, Harker runs into three vampire sisters, which are later called the Brides of Dracula. Nonetheless, Dracula rescues Harker from the sisters so that he could finalize the sale of the castle.

This is Bran Castle or better known as Dracula' Castle

This is Bran Castle or better known as Dracula' Castle

Take a video tour of the Bran Castle

Dracula then takes a ship to England. However, in a strange sailing disaster, the ship sinks, but Dracula survives. Mina, who is Harker's fiancée, and her friend, Lucy, are shadowed by Dracula. Lucy becomes ill. Professor Helsing realizes that her illness is due to a vampire. While Helsing is away, Lucy appears to die. However, after her burial, she haunts some local children as a vampire. Fortunately, Helsing finds her, drives a stake into her heart, cuts off her head, and put garlic into her mouth.

While this is occurring in England, Harker escapes the castle and returns to England where Mina and he get married. In spite of this, Dracula goes after Mina and transfers his blood to her. Dracula now controls her.

The English group must first deal with Dracula in order to save Mina. However, Dracula flies away from England and returns to his castle in Transylvania. They follow Dracula back home. Harker attacks Dracula with a kukri while another thrusts a Bowie knife into Dracula's heart. Dracula is dead, which releases Mina from his control; she is free at last. The story ends with Mina and Harker live happily ever after.

What is interesting is that Stoker used historic characters to flesh out Dracula in his novel. Nearly 6-centuries ago, the Ottoman Turks had invaded Eastern Europe. Vlad II lived in Transylvania, which makes up much of present-day Romania. Vlad II of Wallachia used the name Dracul after joining the Order of the Dragon 1431. Dracul in the Romanian language means dragon or devil. Order of the Dragon was chivalric order, which often waged crusades against the invading Ottoman Turks.

In spite of the Christian/Muslim conflict, Vlad II attempted to resolve some of the problems on one occasion in 1442. Vlad II came to Sultan Murad II of the Ottoman Turks do discuss some resolution to the conflict between the Christian Europe and the Muslim East. For some reason, Vlad II brought two of his sons with him, which was a mistake for him and the history of that area. Murad II merely used the negotiations as an opportunity to arrest Vlad II along with his sons and jailed them.

After some period of time, Murad II releases Vlad II's son, Vlad III but keeps the father in jail. Vlad III returns to Transylvania where he is the Prince of Wallachia.

Vlad III aka Dracula

Vlad III aka Dracula

Bram Stoker used actual historic character of Vlad III to flesh out his character, Dracula. Nonetheless, Vlad III did far more damage to human life than Stoker's Dracula ever imagined.

In 1459, several Turkish diplomats refused to take off their hats as a sign of respect to Vlad III explaining that it was a part of their religious custom. Vlad III accepted their custom and had nails driven though their hats into their skulls. This made it certain that their hats never were removed...even in death.

Vlad III was often referred to as the Impaler, which was his technique employed to deal with those whom he had problems. There are estimate ranging from 40,000 to 100,000 people from Europe, which he impaled. In addition to locals, Vlad III used impaling of approximately 100,000 Ottoman Turks.

The Impaler has dinner while watching his impaled guest writhe and finally die

The Impaler has dinner while watching his impaled guest writhe and finally die.

The Impaler reportedly lined the road to Targoviste, capital of Wallachia, with 20,000 captured Turkish invaders. What was called the forest caused the Ottoman Turks to turn around. There were reports that while having dinner and watching the impaled die that he took blood from some of them, dipped his bread into it, and ate it.

It is interesting how Bram Stoker used research and blended his into his storyline of Dracula. The issue of Dracula eating the blood of humans is one interesting example. Stoker got a lot of information from Ármin Vámbéry, a Hungarian professor that he discussed the stories regarding Dracula. Emily Gerard wrote Transylvania Superstitions were also used by Stoker. In addition, he read Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia with Political Observations Relative to Them by William Wilkinson.

I too have done a great deal of research on Dracula and Bram Stoker. Aside from the meeting a 21st century version of the Impaler this past Halloween at my front door, which got me into thinking again about Dracula, I have spent time researching Stoker. He was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1847, which was right in the middle of the Irish Potato Famine (1845-1852). As an adult, he want Ireland to acquire home rule while remaining in the British Empire. However, Stoker died in 1912 and Ireland had not gotten home rule. In fact, Ireland, excluding the 6-Northern countries, did not get home rule and actual independence until after the Easter Rising in 1916. Independence actually did not occur until December 6, 1921.

I wonder what Stoker thought about leaving the UK had he lived another decade. I wonder how he would have thought about Scottish independence scheduled for a vote on September 18, 2014.


Scottish independence: Yes campaign

Scottish independence flag

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