The German tradition
Portrait of Vlad Tepes in the pamphlet of 1462-1463.La figure of Vlad Tepes made its formal appearance on the European literary scene in 1453, when Matthias Corvinus of Hungary decided to circulate at the court of his ally and rival, Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg, a pamphlet titled Geschichte Dracole Waide (“History of Voivode Dracula”) then staged at the court of the Emperor with the work ainem Wutrich Von der hies Trakle Waida von der Walachei (“History of the crowds called Dracula of Wallachia “) the poet Michel Beheim . Pretext for the dissemination of the material was the symbol of the Treaty of Wiener Neustadt between the two sovereigns.
No specimens dell’incunabulo original, a booklet of six sheets with the portrait of Vlad the front page, has been preserved to the present day. There are four copies made in the following years (1475-1500) and preserved in Austria (Lambach Monastery), Switzerland (Abbey of St. Gall), France (Municipal Library of Colmar) and Britain (British Library), the manuscript of the British Library is the only complete. We also have 13 pamphlets dating from 1488 to 1568. Eight of the pamphlets are incunabula printed before 1501.
The Germanic tradition of Vlad the Impaler is composed of a total of 46 stories. All stories begin when John Hunyadi eliminates Vlad II Dracul and the young Vlad III renounce his religion to defend the true Christian faith. From this point forward, all the stories diverge, it is clear that this whole German bibliography has been compiled with the clear intention of destroying the moral and political credibility of the Wallachian voivode. The first version of the German text was probably written by a cleric Saxon of Brasov, at the time an eyewitness, or rogatorio the memoirs of eyewitnesses, the atrocities perpetrated by Dracula against the citizens of Brasov and Sibiu 1456-1460. The narration of the facts, however, is adulterated by obvious exaggeration. Other anecdotes can be divided into two categories: those that show the precise facts, although their presentation does not obey any rules, nor chronological nor geographical: shipments in Transylvania, the beheading of Prince Dan III, etc..; Those who do not involve any details of dates places and people. What is striking in the literature of this text is the absence of any causality, each logical link between the various episodes. The only point in common is Vlad, which seems driven by a murderous rage against the whole world, without any logic or reflection.
The bibliographic material distributed by order of Corvino was almost certainly written in 1462, before the arrest of Dracula by order of the king of Hungary, and became a real bestseller of the time. The reasons for which Matthias encouraged the spread of this material anti-Dracula are quite understandable. Engaged in a conflict against Frederick III, the King of Hungary had diverted funds to the cause massed at Venice and Rome with the promise to wage war against the Turkish. Vlad, presented as a monster and, by means of a forged letter, and as a vassal of Mohammed II, became the bogeyman and justification which Corvino resorted to appease the wrath of his enemies: the king was forced to intervene against Dracula rather than acting directly against the Ottomans.
Between 1488 and 1568 the “History of Voivode Dracula” was reprinted in Germany for thirteen times and always in the printing of the great imperial cities, five in Nuremberg (1488 two editions, 1499 1520, 1521), three at Augusta ( , 1494, 1520-1542, 1559-1568), and one in Lübeck (1488-1493), Bamberg (1491), Leipzig (1493), Strasbourg (1500) and Hamburg (1502).
After 1490 the History of Voivode Dracula lost its political agenda to become a popular book, reading a favorite of a public eager for stories in which the tyrants and the merchants were the masters. Dracula became an exemplum: the incarnation of evil, a tyrant like Herod, the murderess of the innocent, or as the persecutors of the Christians Nero and Diocletian. We see it depicted in the paintings in the role of Pontius Pilate judging Jesus or intent to condemn St. Andrew the Apostle (a very strong message that, if you consider the weight that the cult of the saint has always had in the Danubian principalities). Theodor Zwinger, author of a Theatrum vitce humanœ (Basel, 1571), Dracula placed between the princes of evil in the chapters “Cruelty princes to their subjects”, “Interrogation and torture painful” and “Inhumanity against the sick.” The sacred character of the room and his disfigurement through the crimes are found in the poem of Flőhhaz I. Fischer (1573), reminiscent of Dracula lunch under the corpses of the impaled, a scene that could be admired in the edition of Strasbourg in 1500. In 1581 Rivader Zechariah described the cruelty of Dracula in Chapter Historien und von Bosen Exempel Gottlosen regenten und und und ihren Tyrannen Oberkeitein von und Bosen unlőblichen tyrannischen Thaten und Wercken of his collection of exempla. In 1596 George Steinhart listed the crimes of the tyrant “wild”, saving it at the last minute with a reference to its proven Christian faith.
Already in 1524, however, the delicate political situation in the Balkan area led to a redemption of the figure of Dracula in the history of German literature. Indeed, it was the patrician Bocignoli Michele Ragusa, courtier of Emperor Charles V, to publish an open letter to Gerardo de Plaines, sir de la Roche, in which he spoke of his stay at the court of Mihnea I cel Rău Wallachian Voivode (1508 – 1510) , son dell’Impalatore. In the text of Bocignoli Dracula was renamed “Dragulus” (reference to the word “dear” in the Romanian language), “lively man and an expert on military affairs,” celebrated for its commitment in the fight against Muhammad II.