London: A new exhibition has claimed that Vlad the Impaler, the medieval Romanian prince, was not a bloodthirsty dictator but was just a misunderstood prey of bad Western European propaganda.
Vlad was born in the town of Sighisoara, in Transylvania, in 1431 and inspired the character of Count Dracula.
The show, entitled `Dracula - Voivode and Vampire`, which has just opened in Bucharest, attempts to re-establish Vlad Tepes, also known as Vlad Dracula or Vlad the Impaler, who ruled Wallachia in the 15th century.
"Vlad Dracula was doubtlessly cruel, but not more so than other princes of his time," a news daily quoted Margot Rauch, the Austrian curator of the exhibition as saying.
Despite the historical evidence, Rauch said, "In fact he was a victim of bad propaganda."
She said historical studies presented in the exhibition show legends related to Vlad Dracula were "aimed at presenting Eastern Europe as a primitive land and a source of evil."
The exhibition includes portraits of Vlad from the Kunsthistoriches Museum in Vienna and the Schloss Ambras museum in Innsbruck, as well as manuscripts, which depicted him as a bloodthirsty maniac.
Many Romanians regard Vlad as a hero because he fought the invading Ottoman Turks.
The famous image of Dracula, with his deathly pale skin, dark cape and bloodstained fangs, came largely from seven Dracula films made by Universal Studios between 1930 and 1960.
"It`s time to see Vlad Dracula in another light than that given by Hollywood," said Rauch.