The title for this article is truncated due to length. A better title would be “At what point did the historical Dracula, Vlad III, also known as Vlad Tepes, or “the Impaler,” become linked with vampirism? It was not during his life. People would have no need to attribute vampiric abilities to the man in order to be frightened by him, as he was, if the admittedly inconclusive historical evidence is credible, far more terrifying than any vampire. Claims that the historical pamphlets printed about him mention him dipping his bread in blood are fallacious. The passage in question actually states that he washed his hands in blood, or possibly, allowing for an error in translation, that he dipped his fried chicken in blood before eating it. I think the “washing his hands” explanation is far more likely.
Did Dracula only become linked with vampirism, then, when Bram Stoker wrote DRACULA in 1897? For sure it was Stoker who cemented this correlation. But might Dracula have been considered a vampire by *anyone* prior to that? You won’t find any written record of it. But when Dracula converted to Catholicism in 1475, a condition of his being released from imprisonment by Matthias Corvinus, he was reputedly excommunicated by the Orthodox Church. And there was a tradition that any such person so excommunicated could never “rest in peace” after death, and that their body could not decompose. It is, then, at least possible that somebody, somewhere suspected Dracula of being a vampire before Bram Stoker. Might we ever turn up a scrap of written evidence stating as much? Such a find would be a real un-holy grail for vampire buffs.