(There are many versions of Dracula in the movies. What most of you readers don’t know is that Dracula had some very interesting Polish ties. My good friend Chet Karasinski penned the following piece about the real Dracula. Hope you enjoy!)
To tell the story of the Dracula family we have to back track through history a little. By the way, several generations of the family did use the name Dracula.
In February of 1430, the Holy Roman Emperor, Sigismund summoned the imperial Diet at Nuremberg. It was a year after the death of the first Protestant martyr, Jan Hus. Jan Hus’s Hussite heresy started to spread all through Eastern Europe and there were Protestants popping up everywhere. Vlad went to Nuremberg together with other rulers of the Empire. In the imperial fortress on February 8, 1431, Vlad was inducted during high ceremony into Empires Order of the Dragon. The Order was founded as a secret fraternal society–by the Emperor and Empress of the Holy Roman Empire. There were only twenty four first class members initially inducted. They were all drawn from the ruling royalty of Europe.
Now, just who were the “Dragons”? They were for the most part, actually heads of State; people like King Alfonso of the Araqon and Naples; Stephan Lazarevic of Serbia, the rulers of high Hungarian nobility, Ladislas Jagiello of Poland and his cousin Prince Witold of Lithuania. The aims of the order? They were many. Some of their aims were reported as the propagation of Catholicism against both the Protestants and Turks. The eventual supremacy in Europe of the house of Luxemberg, crusading against the Eastern infidels. The protecting of the Emperor and his family, defending the European Empire from all threats and enemies. The Emperor at the time was of the Royal House of Luxemberg.
The following description is in special tribute to the Markland Vivode of Moldavia, Sir Rajmund Dragovich. The Ikon of the Dragon shield looked as follows: The Dragon was represented on a medallion worn by all members, with two wings and four paws outstretched, jaws half open, and its tail curled around its head and back with the tail cleft in two, hanging prostrate on a double cross. The cross looked like the Cross of Lorraine. On the medallion were two Latin mottoes, “Oh how merciful is God” and “Justus et Pius” (Just and Faithful). The capes they wore were either red or black depending on the particular event.
For Vlad this was a fantastic singular honor that made him one of the European super stars. When Vlad got home he called himself “Dracul”, his local Boyars, who knew of his “Draconist honor” started calling him Dracul. He put his Dragon crest on his horse, on his talbot, on his shield and on his coins. Actually he plastered it all over everything!
Here is where old Drac ran into a problem. The word Drac-(-ul) is simply the definite article “The”. It can mean both “Devil” and/or “Dragon” in the Romanian language! The use of Vlads nickname “Dracul” did not mean or imply that he was the son of hell and in league with the Devil’s forces of darkness. However, some of his peasants and the people at large recalled the ikons depicting St. George slaying a dragon, the dragon meant the Devil. So the common folk, for the most part, thought that their Lord’s soul was now pawned to the God of Hell. The name Dracula means son of Dracul! and Dracula inherited his father’s position in the Order of the Dragon. The laws and statutes of the order said Drac, Jr. inherited everything, including the title. Many members of the family and their decendants adopted the name Dracula. There is one alive today.
In the Battle of Vama in 1444, King Ladislas III (son of Ladisala Jagiello) King of Poland, rode to battle with Prince Mircea Dracula at his side along with 4000 Wallachian Cavalrymen. John Hunyadi and his Hungarians rode with them as they marched against the Turks during the Crusades. At the Bulgarian port of Varna, the Christian army was met by the Turks. The Christians fought against 3 to 1 odds and were, after much bloody fighting, defeated. Ladislas died the death of a saint to his people.
As the Polish King Ladislas was killed, he was spotted by the Hungarian regent John Hunyadi. Hunyadi collected a group of faithful Moldavian and Wallachian troops and surged forward to try and at least bring back the body of the Polish King. It now appears that many of these Eastern European rulers were related to each other, either by blood or in many cases at least by marriage. Ladislas of Poland was the very heart and soul, the spiritual leader of two successive crusades. He died as a holy knight, fighting the Turks in battle at Varna.
By now, Poland was greatly more powerful than any other Eastern Europe state. The second daughter of Louis the Great of Hungary was named Jadwiga. She was part Polish and had the blood of the Polish Piast family in her veins. At the age of 10 years old, she married the Lithuanian Grand Duke Jagiello. He was a pagan, but accepted conversion to Catholicism for himself and for all of Lithuania. Soon, under their rule, a vast confederation of Slavic states came into being, Bohemia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Silesia, etc. The Confederation stretched from the shores of the Black Sea to the Baltic coast. It was ruled for the most part by members of one family! It was sustained by the faith of its people and the chivalry and courage of its kings and nobles. And at least on this one occasion, Vlad Dracula’s older brother, Mircea Dracular rode with the proud Poles. Army of light and army of darkness riding together into the teeth of the Turkish empire. And yes, this really did actually happen.
Dracula’s portrait was painted by a court artist, while Dracula was under house arrest at the summer palace of King Mathuas of Hungary. Visgrad was the name of the summer palace and the Hungarian King’s full name was Mathias Corvinus.
Mathias Corvinus father was John Hunyadi. John Hunyadi was one of Hungary’s national heroes. He and Dracula fought the Turks together. Dracula was Prince of Wallachia. John Hunyadi (1387-1456) was “Ban” of Severin, Prince of Transylvania, hereditary Count of Timisoara and Bistrita and Governor-General (Regent) of Hungary. Both Dracula and John Hunyadi had a personal lifelong crusade going on to eliminate the Turks from Europe. The Polish kings had no love for the Turks either and for one brief moment in history all of the three major Eastern European powers rode to battle together! The Poles, the Romanians, the Hungarians think of it this way; it was Eastern European history that was responsible for Western European history remaining a history of a Christian people instead of a Muslim people. Poland is called the “Christ of Nations” because it sacrificed itself repeatedly in defense of Christian Europe. And once just once, the angels, the white knights of the saintly King Ladislaus rode through the Balkans with Mirecea Dracula and his wallachian cavalry from hell. To Americans of Eastern European heritage, this is who your ancestors were! Think about it!
. . . . SEE YOU SOON, GOD BE WILLING . . .