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           A journey to Dracula’s realm

In an age of incertitude and cruelty, oscillating violently in diplomacy and military strategy, a time when you could be promoted as genius or monster - there lived a terrible historical figure, a Wallachian prince by the name of Vlad Tepes (The Impaler). Whenever foreigners hear about Vlad Tepes, they think about Dracula, the vampire, who has haunted the imagination ever since he was invented in the late 19th century. But for Romanians Dracula has completely different connotations. If you look beyond the legend, Vlad Tepes could be seen as a hero. Vlad was an exceptional character, one of the bravest Romanian princes, who really existed. He defeated Mahomed II, the conqueror of Constantinople and helped to keep Wallachia independent of the Turks. He was descended from the Bassarabians - the most famous reigning house in Wallachia. Vlad Tepes’s father was Vlad Dracul. Although he was as cruel as his son, the name Dracul (drac means devil in Romanian) does not originate in his cruelty, but from the fact that he was a member of the chivalric Order of the Dragon. The word 'drac' derives from the Latin 'dragon'. Normally Vlad Dracul's son took over his father's name, becoming Draculea. He was also called Tepes (The Impaler) because one of his favourite punishments was the impaling. Vlad Tepes wore the crown of Wallachia twice in the 15th century. The period of his reign was troublesome, unsafe and unpredictable.  His country was vulnerable to the Turks on the one hand, and the Hungarians on the other, and they were the most unforgiving neighbours of the Romanian Prince.

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