Historical Notes and Links

The Witch’s Salvation is a time-travel fantasy weaved around myth, historical fact, and a whole lot of creative license. So what is myth and what is historical fact?

Vlad III also known as Vlad Ţepeş, Vlad the Impaler, and Dracula was a real prince or voivode (warlord) of Wallachia, an ancient principality of Romania. He was born sometime in November or December of 1431 and ruled Wallachia three times: in 1448 for a couple of months, from 1456 – 1462, and also for a short time in 1476 before meeting with his death sometime around December of 1476. He was a product of his time. He used torture, most notably impalement, to establish order and power, enforce submission, and quell threats. The Witch’s Salvation brings readers back to one day during Vlad III’s second term as prince: Easter Sunday 1457. On this day he invited the nobles (boyars) and their families who had had a hand in the death of his father and older brother to celebrate Easter with him. After the religious service and feast, he impaled the older nobles and led the others along the Argeş River to the top of a mountain. Here they built him Poenari Castle until they succumbed to their deaths.

I have changed the timing of Vlad III’s feast to allow for character development and the needs of my plot. Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter at midnight with a significant religious ceremony and feast. I needed the celebration to take place during the afternoon of Easter Sunday and, therefore, had nobles and their families attend Easter or Agápē Vespers, which was then followed by the feast and the massacre.

Also, I needed Vlad III’s acts of torture to begin just before Easter Sunday, 1457. There was never any clear proof when his acts began

Vlad III had several castles. The Princely Court or The Royal Court where my story takes place is real but lies in ruins in present day Târgovişte or Tîrgovişte as it was spelled in the fifteenth century.  Overall, I tried to maintain the actual design of his court or castle, but altered some layouts when research wasn’t available or for the sake of my story’s needs. The underground cells, for instance, may have been accessible from several locations around the court, but I rather enjoyed playing with the idea that they could only have been reached from Vlad III’s private quarters.  (PHOTO CAPTION: The Princely Court or Royal Court in Târgovişte)

I also tried to stay true to the overall feel and look of the ancient city of Tîrgovişte but made some cosmetic changes to give the city some punch and drama. I also played around with fashion and may have given watchmen or guards more than they may have had, such as nice red mantles with the Order of the Dragon logo in order to distinguish them. Also, if you’re in the Carpathian Mountains, don’t go looking for the Snake’s Gorge or the Forest of Daughters. The descriptions are entirely my own.

The Golden Cup that Vlad III used is real but, of course, not magical. Vlad III did keep it in a public area, near a well or a spring. People could use the Golden Cup to drink but could not take it. Should someone take it, he or she would have been immediately punished. No one ever did.

Radu Negru also known as Radu Voda is the legendary founder and ruler of the principality of Wallachia. People believe Radu Negru is simply another name for one of the first real rulers of Wallachia, Thocomerius or Basarab I. For my story, Radu Negru is a real person with descendants. It is the Wallachian Crown, the Wallachian Scepter, and the three precious amulets that are the myths.

Although the Roma people or Gypsies were around in 1457 during the time-travel part of my story, they were not around during the legendary creation of Wallachia by Radu Negru in 1290. The first recorded mention of them was about 1385.  This is not blatant historical slip but creative license. Also, the Argintari and Lăutari were Roma clans, but a liberal interpretation of their culture and customs is applied to my gypsy characters for the sake of the story.

The House of Senesti and the House of Barbat are based on two ancient voivodes who ruled Wallachia before there was a Wallachia. Seneslau came from the east side of the Olt River and ruled in 1247. Litovoi came from the west side of the Olt River and ruled Wallachia from 1247 – 1277.  He was followed by his brother Barbat who ruled from 1277 – 1290. I took the names of Seneslau and Barbat, gave them royal lineages, lovely castles, lots of history, and heirs. Their heirs were given immortality.

The language of the fifteenth period is not by any means accurate. It also would not have been English in Wallachia. A modern reader would be pulled out of my story should I have used authentic language to recreate the speech of my fifteenth century characters. A mild “taste” of an ancient language is given. In other words, I applied creative license.

Links and Books

There were many websites that I visited and many trips to libraries to find information, but the following books and websites were invaluable in my research.

Dracula, Prince of Many Faces: His Life and Times by Radu R. Florescu and Raymond T. McNally, published by Back Bay Books, 1989

In Search of Dracula: The History of Dracula and Vampires, by Radu R. Florescu and Raymond T. NcNally, published by Houghton Mifflin, 1994

At Europe’s Borders: Medieval Towns in the Romanian Principalities by Laurenţiu Rădvan, translated by Valentin Cîrdei, published by Brill Academic Publishers, 2010

Vlad the Impaler: In Search of the Real Dracula by M. J. Trow, published by Stroud UK, 2003

De La Vlad Tespes, La Dracula Vampirul by Neagu Njuvara and Radu Oltean , published in 2007 by Humanitas (It’s in Romanian, but the illustrations are wonderful.)

A Pictorial History of Costume: From Ancient Times to the Nineteenth Century by Wolfgang Bruhn and Max Tilke, published in 2004 by Dover Publications

European Occupational Dress from the Fourteenth to the Eighteenth Century by Irena Turnau, published by Warsaw: Institute of the Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences, 1994