The Historian Does Not Need A Drop of Blood
“The worst impulses that humankind has can last for thousands, centuries, and even millions of years.” “And even the best of individual efforts can be lost with us at our last breath” (Kostova 130). Rossi used this line to talk about Vlad The Impaler and his desire find him. For centuries, the legend of Vlad Tepes continues to amaze people. Many believed him to be a dangerous villain. Many literary works portray him as such. Elizabeth Kostova’s “Historian” is a detailed representation of Vlad The Impaler’s life and works, also known as Dracula.
The Historian is a story about a young woman from 1972 Amsterdam. She discovers an old book in her father’s library. Paul, her father, recounts orally the events that took place after he purchased the book. Paul then confronts his professor. When she discovers letters from her father’s professor addressed to “My Dear and Unfortunate Successor”, she is connected to her father’s history, her mother’s, and comes across what appears to be the darkest, most secretive, Vlad the Impaler. After her father gives Paul his notes, Rossi mysteriously disappeared in 1950s. Rossi informs her of his belief that Dracula was still alive. Paul sets out to investigate Rossi’s disappearance. He meets Helen Rossi, a daughter of Rossi. Helen is interested in Dracula’s story and begins to travel with Paul to discover the secrets that have been kept secret since the fifteenth-century. The narrator begins to become interested in the story of her father and embarks on research about Dracula while traveling across Europe in 1970s. Her father doesn’t want her to get in trouble and sends her home. She does not stay there. Her father sends her a letter saying that he wants to find her mother. Paul sent letters to Helen, which revealed the rest. Helen realizes that Helen was her mother. Paul writes to Helen to tell her that he discovered that Rossi’s book had been discovered by another professor. Helen and he travel to Hungary in order to find Dracula’s tomb. They also meet Helen’s mom to learn her mother’s history. As she travels to Hungary, she meets her father. She soon realizes that Dracula’s legend is true. The Historian is a book that talks about Wallachia. Also known as Romania. Radu Negru was the man who founded it. Wallachia, until 1330, was ruled by Hungary. Prince Basarab I, the infant country’s first ruler, ruled the nation. Vlad Tepes III was conceived in the winter 1431. It is not known much about his childhood. However, it is known that he was the older brother and the younger sister. Vlad Tepes’ mother, a Transylvanian girl in her twenties, was his teacher. His life became more difficult as his age progressed. He was taken prisoner by the Ottomans. It was there that he witnessed and experienced impalement. His father was expelled and the crown was taken from him. He was then killed in the swamps in Balteni (Wallachia) in 1447. Vlad’s elder brother, Mircea, suffered brutal torture, blinding, and was then burnt alive. It is not known if this was what caused Vlad “Dracula”, to become a brutal killer. The only thing that is certain is that he began his reign as a terrorist after he was released by the Ottomans. Vlad led his troops in Wallachia defense against invasion after Constantinople was captured by the Ottomans in 1453. His victory in battle came in 1456 when he killed Vladislav III. In honor of his victory, he invited hundreds to his banquet. However, each person was stabbed and then impaled (Vlad). Vlad Tepes impaled his victims with a long, rounded, iron pole. This was forced through therectum and would extend into the body near the neck or shoulders. To avoid causing damage to internal organs, a blunt pole was used (About). Vlad Dracula seemed to have no empathy. However, he stated that he had killed 238,000 Turks. This includes those who were burned or whose heads were slit by our soldiers. Vlad Tepes is believed to have killed more than 80,000 people. Nearly 20,000 were impaled outside Targoviste so that people traveling from Constantinople could see the bodies decaying and then leave. Further disturbing is the story that Vlad Dracula allegedly dipped his bread with the blood of victims to create the vampirism legend. Vlad Tepes was shot to death and then beheaded. He was buried without the head. His head was displayed in Constantinople. Paul talks to his daughter. A unnamed Narrator tells us of a battle among the Turks and Wallachians. In 1462, Dracula crossed the Danube, where he carried out a night-time raid on horseback. He killed thousands and the Sultan barely survived (Kostova 54). This event is known as “The Night Raid”, and Vlad Tepes’ army attacked the Sultan of Wallachia and the Turks. They slit the throats of thousands upon thousands of Turks and killed them all. The Wallachian army had only 50,000 soldiers and knew they wouldn’t be able to take on the large Turk army. So they used a brutal, but deadly, scorched-earth strategy. The Turkish army entered Wallachia. But, because it was very hot, thousands of Turks became ill and marched into Wallachia.
It gives small details about Vlad Tepes at various points. It is true that Vlad Tepes (Dracula) was chased from his Wallachia country by the Turks. But he eventually returned. He was then killed, December 1476. Vlad the Impaler, as many movies portray him as, was actually as dark and twisted as they make it seem. He enjoyed watching his enemies die. The narrator mentions that “…Sultan Mehmed II once sent two ambassadors for Dracula. They did not take off their turbans as the ambassadors appeared before Dracula. Dracula asked them why they were disrespecting him this way. They replied that they were just following their customs. The prince said, “Then I will strengthen your customs,” and they were nailed to the heads with their turbans” (Kostova). This actually took place. As a gesture of respect, Prince Vlad Tepes asked the Turks why their hats weren’t taken off when they arrived at his castle. The Turks claimed that they were adhering to their customs. Vlad secured their turbans to the skulls of their heads and made sure they were secure (About).
Many of Vlad’s sadistic actions were often misunderstood by those who knew him. “…The rulers of the Persian Empire feared him (Vlad Tepes), because he was a vampiric” (Kostova 288). True, Vlad Tepes was terrorized by the Turkish sultan for his bloody and brutal tortures. Many were afraid. Some tried to prove Vlad to be a monster. Although Dracula’s events were mostly accurate, one historical fact was missing. Paul’s letters to Paul reveal that Dracula found out from the narrator that his brother had had his coffin demolished and discovered that the “poor” man had been buried alive. (Kostova 385) Dracula knew his brother had been murdered, but his brother was actually burnt alive and not buried (Cooper). This is an important part of the storyline because it may have led Vlad Tepes, a cold-hearted killer, to unravel these events. It was clear that Vlad had found his brother dead, but it didn’t seem as if that would be a problem. He was also murdered along with his younger brother Cooper.
The Historian does an excellent job of describing the events that took place during Vlad Tepes’ reign. He was a brutal person and those who heard about his story will never forget him. Elizabeth Kostova does amazing work describing the events of the Vlad the Impaler era. Although Vlad the Impaler’s story seems extreme, it is documented in detail and Elizabeth Kostova does an incredible job of accurately citing the events. Some people might wonder how Dracula became a legend. It may be worth looking into. Although the event of Dracula’s death may not have taken place during this period, it is still worth looking back at the circumstances. The characters realize the dangers in the words and begin to care more about their families than they do about themselves. It becomes evident that Vlad Tepes may not be alive anymore but his stories and renditions still inspire, fascinate, and entertain today’s youth as well as future generations.