From fiction to reality, Count Dracula to Vlad Țepeș (“the Impaler”)…
While this character may be fictitious, he was inspired by somebody who actually existed, Vlad Ţepeş who was not a vampire but actually a very fierce warrior and ruler.
The name under which he was known during his lifetime (the nickname of Ţepeş which means “the impaler” was given after his death) was Vlad III Drăculea. Thus not only was he the inspiration for the character of Count Dracula, he also gave him his name.
The name Draculea, in Old Romanian, is a diminutive form of the nickname given to his father, Dracul which meant the dragon. This nickname was given to his father, Vlad II, after he had joined the Order of the Dragon and founded the “House of Drăculești” which is itself a branch of the “House of Basarab“.
He was a prince, or more accurately a voievod of Wallachia and was born in 1431 in Sighișoara, Transylvania (now a part of Romania).
For the people he protected, he was (and still is to this day) a hero, for his enemies, he was considered a cruel and sadistic opponent.
His method of punishment of choice, the one who gave him his nickname, was of course the impalement.
This was not unheard of at the time though and he was not the only one practicing it. The writings which depict him in the dimmest light are the one written by his adversaries and are obviously biased. Romanian, Bulgarian and even Russian writings depict him in a more positive light.
He ruled 3 times over Wallachia, his main reign being from 1456 to 1462.
The exact time of his death, its circumstances and his place of burial is unknown. He is believed to have died in December of 1476 or in early January of 1477 (soon after the beginning of his third reign) but to whose hands and what was done of his remains is unknown.