Legend – Transylvania


“Sigoasuara is the alleged birthplace of the legendary Rumanian warrior Vlad the Impaler, who turned back Turkish invaders by capturing enemy soldiers and impaling them on a mountainside, thus frightening the Turks into submission.  He is more well known for his nickname of “Dracula,” which was later made famous when it was given to the infamous fictional vampire.”

Simon told me that he first heard this legend from his father Adolph Katz, who was born and raised in the Transylvanian town of Sigoasuara, which is said to have been the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler.  While the legendary existence of Dracula came over four centuries before Adolph, the legend was a popular subject for the residents of his community.  Adolph studied history in school and learned some about the history of Vlad the Impaler.  Vlad was also a popular topic of conversation amongst him and his friends, as they would always speculate as to some of the legendary and horrifying things that he did.  There is a clear distinction however between the portions of Vlad’s reign that were well documented and those were not, creating a sometimes dissolving line between the “real” and the “legendary.”

What we do know was that Vlad the Impaler was a power-hungry ruler who is said to have been “unmatched for his cruelty” as he eliminated all people who posed threats to his authority (Romano, 58).  Furthermore, we know with some certainty that he forced the Turks out of his native land in 1462, only to have his thrown revoked soon thereafter.  As a ruler, he did considerable damage, but failed to get the land of Mehmed, his primary target. He praised men who had been wounded in the front of their bodies but called those wounded in the back women and had them impaled (Romano, 59).  Five and a half centuries after his life, Turks and Transylvanians associate the name with evil.
Other portions of Dracula’s rule however, are not documented and have thus paved the way for legends and horror stories.  One such example came in the fall of 1462, when Vlad withdrew his troops along the southeast portion of the Arges River toward Poienari.  This came during one of his battles with Turks, and during this war, the Turkish infantry dispensed an immense amount of cannon balls and gunpowder to Dracula’s castle in Poineri (Romano, 59). As Adolph told Simon, and popular legend has it, when Dracula’s wife received word that the castle was destined to be destroyed, she cried, “I would rather have my body rot and be eaten by the fish of the Arges then be led into captivity by the Turks,” and threw herself into the river and perished (Romano, 59).

Romano, Will.  “Vlad Dracula’s war on the Turks.”  Military History Oct. 2003: 58-60