In 1897, Bram Stoker, an Irish writer, wrote a novel called Dracula, which has since become one of the classics of the Gothic horror genre. Despite the fact that Dracula is a fictional character, Stoker did not pull him out of thin air. Instead, Dracula is believed to be based on at least one real, historical figure. The most popular candidate for the inspiration for Dracula is Vlad the Impaler, though how much of a “vampire” he was will be decided by the readers.
The Son of Vlad II Dracul, a Member of the Order of the Dragon
Stoker’s Dracula is generally thought to have been based on the 15th century Prince of Wallachia (modern day Romania), Vlad III. Vlad was born sometime between 1428 and 1431, probably in Sighişaora, Transylvania. His patronymic, ‘Dracul’, means Dragon, derived from the membership of his father, Vlad II Dracul, in the Order of the Dragon. This was an order of chivalry founded by Sigismund, the King of Hungary, for the defense of Christianity in Eastern Europe against the Ottoman Empire.
The Ambras Castle Portrait of Vlad III. (Public Domain)