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Digital Subscriptions > BBC History Revealed > February 2019 > Ask the Experts

Ask the Experts


Obviously Vlad wasn’t an impossibly old vampire who couldn’t go out in the day and disliked garlic in his cooking. Y et the three-time voivode (prince) of Wallachia and Dracula do make a gruesome twosome, what with Vlad’s taste for torture and impaling his enemies – hence the nickname. As many as 100,000 died at his hands, including tens of thousands in one go, impaled at a battle in 1462 to scare the invading Ottomans.

So far, it seems completely understandable why Bram Stoker based his monstrous creation on him. Besides, Vlad was known as Dracula. But while this theory makes for a good story there is no conclusive evidence to prove it.

The name Dracula meant Son of Dracul. Stoker saw it in a dry history book about Wallachia and liked it, but not because of any juicy tales of bloodletting. As well as coming from the Latin for dragon, which Vlad’s father went by it referred to the devil. It seems that Stoker just got lucky in picking the name of someone with as much blood on their hands as the titular character for his 1897 novel.

FANGS A LOT Vlad was a figurative monster, not a literal one

What was floriography?

In short: a symbolic, colourful and bizarrely complicated way of having a chat. Although an ancient idea, the conditions were just right in the 19th century for floriography the ‘language of flowers’, to bloom.

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About BBC History Revealed

Egyptologist Chris Naunton takes us on a tour of the greatest discoveries found in Egypt down the centuries. Plus: We look at the German resistance movements that stood up to Hitler, the tragic tale of the nine-day queen – Lady Jane Grey and the fall from grace of one of America’s once most-beloved politicians, Richard Nixon.