Dracula: Prince of Many Faces

Count Dracula is a historical frustration. His life illustrates why it is difficult for historians to make simple moral judgments on time periods they know little about. Even if 90% of the horrific legends about Dracula are false–and they are–he was still a bad man (and I maintain demon-possessed). But it’s worse than that: as horrible as he was Dracula singlehandedly kept Europe from being overrun by Muslims. As Florescu notes, “Europe was more interested in political in-fighting that in resisting the Turks. Only the Slavs were willing to push back the Turk” (26). The authors note that had not Dracula resisted the Turk, “the Muslim world would have extended from the Bosphorus to the Atlantic seaboard” (15).

Turkish goals were simple and thorough: Mehmed “planned to strike at the pillars of European civilization and bring it tumbling down into his control. Though Dracula ruled a small country, he was quite as determined and proud as the sultan himself.” At all times Dracula was outnumbered three to one (125). It seems that the Popes learned from their previous mistakes. It appears they never took the Turkish conquest of Byzantium seriously. They were probably thrilled that Muslims were punishing the Greek schismatics. That explains why the Popes always hem-hawed on sending armies to fight off the Turk in the 15th century. After the fall of Constantinople the popes probably realized how precarious their existence was. While Dracula did the brunt of the fighting and deserves most of the praise, the popes did do a decent job in rallying much of Central Europe.

Dracula, however, never achieved a complete victory over the Turk. He did frustrate Turkish plans for conquest and he did keep his Romania largely free, but Turkish power was not broken and much of Southeastern Europe was still enslaved.

The authors end the book with three different ways of interpreting Dracula: According to the German catholics, Dracula was Satan incarnate (it’s probable the Germans invented a lot of the blood-sucking rumors). According to the Russians he was cruel but just. The Romanians view him as a nationalist freedom-fighter. The authors suggest that all three views are accurate when combined.

About J. B. Aitken

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism, Medievalism, Substance Metaphysics
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