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Friday, October 28, 2011

Prince Charles bids us welcome to Transylvania

Vlad Tepes (1488 Woodcut)

Just in time for Halloween, Prince Charles of England made a (somewhat) startling announcement.  Now the world knows that he and Dracula-prototype Vlad the Impaler have something in common besides wealth and power:  DNA.

According to the Associated Press, Prince Charles revealed this genealogical tidbit during “an upcoming TV show to promote his interest in protecting the forests of Romania’s Transylvania region.”  Transylvania is, of course, the land of Prince Vlad (or Dracula – “Son of the Dragon” – as he was often non-affectionately called). Ironically, although Gothic author Bram Stoker tried to forever link Transylvania with images of crucifix-allergic vampires - the historical truth is that while the Ottoman Empire ruled Transylvania, there occurred a period of unique Christian brotherhood.  Wikipedia reports that the 1568 Edict of Turda “proclaimed four religious expressions in Transylvania – Latin Rite or Eastern Rite Catholicism, Lutheranism, Calvinism and
Unitarianism,” along with a tolerata (official “tolerance”) for Eastern Orthodoxy.

Unfortunately, Prince Vlad lived way before this Transylvanian period of interfaith tolerance.  It seems that he may have meant well – at least in the beginning.  Wikipedia reports that when Vlad ascended the throne, he had these three aims:  "to strengthen the country’s economy, its defense and his own political power."  However, that third aim began overtaking the other two in a big way - and soon Vlad was bent on earning his other moniker, Vlad Tepes (“Vlad the Impaler”).  He especially had it in for the Ottoman Muslims, whom he hated with a childhood passion.   (Vlad’s father had given him up as a political hostage to the Ottoman court when Vlad was just a youngster).

Nevertheless, Prince Charles seems quite proud of his Transylvanian heritage.  He referred to Transylvania as a “national treasure” because of its “unspoiled landscape” (those impaled corpses have long been picked over) and “centuries-old rural farming traditions.”


Copyright October 28, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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