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The Historical Dracula

Chapter II: What's in a name?

Statue of Vlad TepesThere has been considerable debate among scholars concerning the meaning of the name "Dracula". The name is clearly related to Dracula's father's sobriquet "Dracul". Drac in Romanian means devil and "ul" is the definitive article. Therefore, "Dracul" literally means "the devil". The "-ulea" ending in Romanian indicates "the son of". Under this interpretation Dracula becomes Vlad III, the son of the devil. The experts who support this interpretation usually claim that Vlad II earned his devilish nickname by his clever and wily political maneuvering.

The second interpretation of the name is more widely accepted. In 1431 Vlad II was invested with the Order of the Dragon by the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg. The Order of the Dragon was a knightly order dedicated to fighting the Turk. Its emblem was a dragon, wings extended, hanging on a cross. From 1431 onward Vlad II wore the emblem of the order. His coinage bore the dragon symbol. The dragon was the symbol of the devil and consequently and alternate meaning of "drac" was dragon. Under this interpretation Vlad II Dracul becomes Vlad II, the Dragon and his son, Vlad III Dracula, becomes Vlad III, the Son of the Dragon.

There is some confusion in the secondary sources concerning Dracula's exact title. In most of the sources he is referred to as Vlad III. However, many sources refer to him as Vlad IV or Vlad V. I am somewhat at a loss to explain this confusion. The lists of Wallachian princes that I have seen would seem to make the correct title Vlad III. Vlad Tepes 1431 to 1476The only conclusion I have been able to reach is that there is some confusion in the sources between the various Wallachian voivodes named Vlad and those named Vladislav. This argument gains credence when one realizes that Dracula occasionally signed his name as "Vladislaus". I would welcome an explanation from anyone capable of resolving this problem.

 

>> Chapter III: The Life of Vlad III Dracula, called the Impaler (1431-1476)



All Text Rights Reserved.
 "The Historical Dracula" is Copyright Ray Porter, 1992

 

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