Time in Romanian Folktales and Schrödinger’s Cat

Time in Romanian Folktales and Schrodinger's Cat

Recently I re-read one of best known Romanian folktales, Youth Without Age and Life Without Death, and something about the way time unfolds jabbed at my mind, yet only when I remembered Schrödinger’s Cat did it all fall into place.

What is Youth Without Age and Life Without Death about?

In a tiny nutshell, Youth Without Age and Life Without Death tells the story of a young prince who chose to leave his parents and kingdom to pursue a quest. What he seeks is what was promised to him before birth: eternal youth and a life without death. Of course he faces numerous trials but he also finds that what he searched for. And together with a lovely young woman lives the eternal youth he was born for, forgetting all about the life and the world he left behind.

Until one day… I won’t tell you how… when he suddenly remembers his past and his family. And as a heavy longing struck him he just has to go back and see them all one more time – although he is warned not to do it.

As he chases on his magic horse back to his native land he is amazed to discover how much the scenery changed and how the adventures he lived only yesterday are fairy-tales to those he meets along the road. And as he approaches the land of his birth he also ages at an alarming rate…

I do think there is a dual time lapsing in Youth Without Age and Life Without Death. While time passed at a normal rate for the humans left behind and actually the entire humankind, time stands still (or at least barely moves forward) for the hero once he finds himself in the land of everlasting youth.

And yet the two time zones are concurrent.

time in Romanian folktales and Schrödinger's Cat
Time in Romanian folktales and Schrödinger’s Cat

The time in Romanian folktale Youth Without Age and Life Without Death

The time that passed while the hero was away in his quest, away from family and the places where he was born, is indicative of his journey. A quest and a journey of initiation nevertheless. This time is measurable and irreversible for those he left behind, while his quest takes place in a different time, almost a parallel time, where the known means of time passing do not apply. Here, in this forever youthful land, the idea of time is simply erased or at least slowed down dramatically.

So how can the real time and the quest time be concurrent in fairy-tales and folk tales – and not mess with the story’s timeline?

Perhaps looking at the dual time continuum in fairy tales as a type of Schrodinger’s Cat experiment will save this writer’s sanity.

Time in Romanian folktales and Schrödinger's Cat
Time in Romanian folktales and Schrödinger’s Cat

What is Schrödinger’s Cat?

Just a note. No cats have ever been harmed during Schrödinger’s Cat experiment as this is a theoretical experiment and not a real one. It is a Thought Experiment, a Gedanken Experiment. An experiment one can only think of but never do in practice.

Schrödinger‘s Cat experiment was created as a visual teaching tool to illustrate how some people misinterpreted the quantum theory. But we won’t go that way.

I’ll describe the Schrödinger’s Cat experiment then I’ll explain how it illustrates the dual time lapsing in folk tales.

In his imaginary experiment Schrödinger places in a metal box fitted with a lock:

  • a cat;
  • a tiny bit of radioactive substance that is contained by a tiny vessel. Now here you can choose the quantity of the radioactive substance so that you know it will contain only a certain number of atoms because you want to have the possibility that after a certain amount of time (say one hour) there will be a 50/50 possibility that one of these atoms might decay radioactively and release particles;
  • a tiny Geiger counter – this instrument can detect if the radioactive release took place;
  • a tiny hammer connected both to the Geiger counter and to
  • a tiny glass vial containing cyanide.

The idea is that when / if the radioactive substance decays, it will triggers a Geiger counter which will cause the hammer to break the glass container releasing the poison that will kill the cat.

Or not.

The idea is also that one cannot know the outcome of the Schrödinger’s Cat experiment until one opens the box.

BECAUSE

Something can have both an absurd and a logical outcome. If you have something that can exist in two possible states the two states could be muddled together so you can’t say which is which.

Schrödinger's Cat
Schrödinger’s Cat – source

OR, considering the TIME in the Youth Without Age and Life Without Death folktale, TIME can exist in two different states or pass at two different rates at the same time.

In the metal box, during the time of one hour that it remains locked, there is a chance that radioactive decay might take place. But we cannot predict if it will or not and cannot tell if it did or not until we open the box. / The folktale hero, since he is still a human, might grow old during the time he spends away from his birth place but we cannot tell until he returns to his place of birth.

What is the state of the cat before opening the box? / What is the age of the folktale hero during the time spent in the land of forever youth?

The hero of the Romanian folktale Youth Without Age and Life Without Death, since he was born in a normal human timezone, will be affected by the passing of time as we know it. At the same time, the hero finds himself in a miraculous place ruled by a different clock and is also affected by it – he does not grow old. So, at the same time, he is old if you count the years passed on his birth clock and he remains young, based on the clock the miraculous world is ruled by.

And we have no way of knowing what the hero’s age is.

The conclusion of Schrödinger’s Cat theoretical experiment is that the cat is in a superposition of state of being both alive and dead.

The conclusion (at least mine) of the hero in Youth Without Age and Life Without Death is that he is in a superposition state of being both young and old / young and dead.

What are your thoughts on Schrödinger‘s Cat and Youth Without Age and Life Without Death?

As always, a gentle reminder to check my book on Amazon or Loot (if you reside in South Africa).

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Youth Without Age and Life Without Death ~ part 2

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death

If you enjoyed the Romanian folktale Emperor Aleodor and the first part of Youth Without Age and Life Without Death do read further.

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death ~ part 2

On the morning of the third day there was great mourning throughout the whole court and empire.

The handsome prince, clad like a hero, holding his sword in his hand and riding the horse he had chosen, took leave of the emperor, the empress, the great nobles and lesser grandees, the army, and all the attendants who, with tears in their eyes, implored him to give up the journey and not risk his life. Yet setting spurs to his steed, he dashed through the gate like the wind, followed by carts loaded with provisions and money, and the two hundred horsemen the emperor had commanded to accompany him.

After reaching the boundaries of his father’s country and arriving at the wilderness the prince distributed all his property among the escort, bade them farewell, and sent them back, keeping for himself only as much food as his horse could carry. Then he turned toward the east and rode for three days and three nights, till he came to a wide plain where lay a great many human bones.

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death

When he stopped here to rest the horse said: “You must know, master, that we are on the land of a Woodpecker Witch who is so wicked that nobody can enter her domain without being murdered. She was once a woman, but the curse of her parents, whom she angered by her disobedience, turned her into a woodpecker. She is with her children now, but you will meet her tomorrow in yonder forest. She will come to kill you. She is terribly big, but don’t be frightened. Hold the bow ready to pierce her with an arrow and keep your sword and lance in hand, so that you can use them in case of need.”

Then they went to rest, taking turns in standing watch.

At dawn the next morning they prepared to pass through the forest. The prince saddled and bridled the horse, drew the girths tighter than usual, and mounted. Suddenly he heard a tremendous crashing. “Make ready, master,” said the horse, “the Woodpecker Witch is coming!”

As she approached, she moved so fast that she tore the trees down. But the horse leaped upward like the wind so that it was almost over her, and the prince shot off one of her feet with an arrow. But just as he was about to discharge the second arrow she cried:

“Stop, my young hero, I’ll do you no harm.” And seeing that he did not believe her, she gave him a promise written with her own blood.

“May your horse live long and prosper, my young hero,” she added, “for it is enchanted. If it hadn’t been for him, I would have roasted and eaten you. Know that until today no mortal has ventured to cross my boundaries as far as this. A few bold unruly who dared to make the trial reached the plain where you saw the sea of bones.”

They now went to the witch’s house where she entertained them as guests. But while sitting at the table enjoying the banquet, the Woodpecker Witch moaned with so much pain that the prince pulled out of his traveling bag the foot he had shot off and, fastened it on, it instantly healed. The hostess, in her joy, kept open house for three days and begged the emperor’s son to choose one of her three daughters for his wife, all as beautiful as fairies.

Yet he would not do that, but told her what he was truly seeking and she replied:

“With your horse and your heroic courage, I believe you will succeed.”

After three days had passed, the prince prepared to continue his journey and departed. He rode on, and on, and on. The road seemed to grow longer and longer, but when he had finally crossed the frontiers of the Woodpecker Witch’s kingdom, he entered a beautiful meadow, one side of which was covered with blooming plants, but the other was scorched.

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death ~ The road seemed to grow longer and longer

The prince asked why the grass was singed, and the horse answered:

“We are now in the domain of the Termagant Witch; she is the Woodpecker Witch’s sister, but they are both so wicked that they can’t live together. Their parents’ curse has fallen upon them, and so, as you see, they have become monsters. Their enmity goes beyond all bounds and they are always trying to get possession of each other’s lands. When this one is very angry she spits fire and pitch. She must have had some quarrel with her sister, and, to drive her out of her kingdom, has burned the grass on which she was standing. She is even worse than her sister, and has three heads. We will rest awhile now, and be ready at the first peep of dawn to-morrow.”

The next day they prepared themselves just as they did when they expected to meet the Woodpecker Witch, and set out. Soon they heard a howling and rustling unlike any thing ever known before.

“Make ready, master, the Termagant Witch is coming.”

The Termagant Witch, with one jaw in the sky and the other on the earth, approached like the wind, spitting fire as she came, but the horse darted upward as swiftly as an arrow and then rushed over her a little on one side. The hero then shot an arrow and one of her heads fell, but just s he was about to strike off another the Termagant Witch implored him to forgive her. She would do him no harm, she promised, and to convince him of this she gave him proof of her promise, written in her own blood.

Like the Woodpecker Witch before her the Termagant Witch entertained the prince, who, eventually, returned her head which grew on again, and at the end of three days he resumed his travels.

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death ~ they hurried on without resting till they came to a field covered with flowers, where reigned perpetual spring

When the hero and his horse reached the far boundaries of the Termagant Witch’s kingdom they hurried on without resting till they came to a field covered with flowers, where reigned perpetual spring. Every blossom was remarkably beautiful and filled with a sweet, intoxicating fragrance; a gentle breeze fanned them all. They remained here to rest when the horse said:

“We have succeed thus, master, but we still have one great peril to undergo and, if the Lord helps us to conquer it, we shall really be valiant heroes. A short distance further on is the palace where dwell Youth without Age and Life without Death. It is surrounded by a high, dense forest where roam all the wild animals in the world, guarding it day and night. They are very numerous,and it is almost beyond the bounds of possibility to get through the wood by fighting them. Thus we must try, if we can, to jump over them.”

After resting about two days they prepared to continue their journey and the horse, holding its breath, said:

“Buckle my girth as tight as you can and when you have mounted hold fast to my mane and press your feet close to my neck, that you may not hinder me.” The prince mounted, and in a moment they were nearing the forest.

“Master,” said the horse, “this is the time that the wild beasts are fed. They are all collected together. Now! We’ll jump over.”

“Forward,” replied the handsome prince, “and may the Lord have mercy on us.”

They flew upward and saw the palace, which glittered so that it would have been easier to look at the sun. They had passed over the forest when, just as they were descending towards the palace steps one of the horse’s hoofs lightly touched the top of a tree and put the whole woods in motion.

The wild animals began to howl till it was enough to make one’s hair bristle. The prince and his horse hastily alighted and, if the mistress of the palace had not been outside feeding her chickens (for that is what she called the wild beasts), they would certainly have been killed. She spared their lives out of pure pleasure, for she had never before seen a human being. Restraining the savage beasts she soothed them and sent them back to their haunts. She was a tall, slender, lovely fairy, quite too beautiful. And when the young hero saw her he stood still as though was turned to stone. But as she gazed at him she pitied him and said:

“Welcome, my handsome prince. What do you seek here?”

“We seek Youth without Age and Life without Death.”

When the prince dismounted from his horse and entered the palace to discover two other ladies, both of about the same age, the elder sisters of the first one.

The prince thank the fairy for having delivered him from danger when she and her sisters, to show their joy, had a handsome banquet served in golden dishes. They gave the horse liberty to graze wherever it chose, and afterward made it acquainted with all the wild beasts, so that it might rove about the forest in peace.

The ladies pleaded with the prince to stay with them saying that it was so tiresome to be alone. He did not wait to be asked a second time, but accepted the offer with the satisfaction of a man who has found precisely what he sought.

By degrees they became accustomed to live together. The prince told them his story and related what he had suffered before meeting them, and after some time he married the youngest sister. At their wedding permission was granted to him to go wherever he liked in the neighborhood. They only begged him not to enter one valley, which they pointed out to him, otherwise some misfortune would befall him. It was called, they said, the Valley of Sighs.

Do return tomorrow to find out how the story ends.

The Romanian term for wicked Woodpecker Witch is outstanding and reserved to it alone: Gheonoaie, deriving from Albanian Gjon “owl” and “woodpecker”.

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death (Tinerete Fara de Batranete si Viata Fara de Moarte) is a Romanian folktale discovered by Petre Ispirescu, Romanian editor, folklorist, printer and publicist, and first published in 1862 in local newspaper Țăranul român (Romanian Peasant).

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To Marvel at the Medieval Towers of Sighisoara Fortress

marvel medieval towers Sighisoara

Let’s further our historical journey and marvel at the medieval towers and walls of Upper City Sighisoara, the fortress, Vlad the Impaler‘s birth place. If we walk clockwise around the citadel’s defense wall or rampant, still 14 meters in height in some places, we’ll admire, in this order:

Sighisoara fortress - marvel medieval towers fortress. Tanners Tower

The Tanners’ Tower is one of the oldest, original towers dating back to the 13th – 14th centuries as it suggest its position too, retracted behind the wall. Its roof, slanted towards the inside of the fortress, suggests the same. It was built to guard and protect the courtyard of the Clock Tower nearby.

 Tanners' Tower Sighisoara, 13th - 14th century. marvel medieval towers fortress
Tanners Tower, Turnul Tabacarilor

The Tinsmiths’ Tower & bastion. At 25 m of height it has a specific shape: square at the base (the original foundation), then becomes pentagonal (probably late 15th century), and it ends octagonal at the top, while the roof has a hexagonal plan. It had one of the strongest defense systems of the Sighisoara fortress. One can still see the traces that Hungarian bullets left during the last siege, that of 1704.

The Tinsmiths' Tower & bastion, Sighisoara. Turnul Cositorilor. marvel medieval towers fortress
The Tinsmiths’ Tower & bastion with Riflemen’s Gallery – Turnul Cositorilor

Do you see the Rifle-men’s Gallery, adjacent to the Tinsmiths’ Tower – left side? It has a unique architecture in the Sighisoara fortress.

The Rope-makers Tower is high up on the hill and today houses the cemetery guard. But 200 years ago, the first family allowed to make a home here had to sound the church bells three times a day, at 7 am, at noon and 7 pm, and look after the cemetery.

Rope-makers Tower - Turnul Franghierilor
Rope-makers Tower – Turnul Franghierilor

The original fortress’ wall between the Rope-makers Tower and the Butchers’ Tower still stands. The Butchers’ Tower has a bastion as well and it dates from the 15th century. Initially, it was an octagonal prism, but during the 16th century, it was rebuilt on a hexagonal floor plan and raised to make it easier to defend the west side of the Citadel. For this reason alone, the Butcher’s Tower was armed with five arquebuses (a lighter type of musket and one of the first hand-guns with a trigger), and at least one cannon (as the cannonballs and gunpowder discovered here attest).

The Butchers' Tower. Medieval Sighsoara - Turnul Macelarilor
Butcher’s Tower – Turnul Macelarilor

Did you know that it was the Romans who discovered that towers made it easier to defend a walled fortress? Towers made it easy to give covering fire for the walls during an attack.

The Butchers’ Tower and the Furriers’ Tower saw many sheep a-counting while guarding the Törle gate in between. It was through here that each evening the shepherds returned with their flock from the pastures and proceed to count and separate the sheep. Of course, they would have had at least one dog to help them round the flock, to head them off or hold them up just by standing in the road, blocking the sheep’s way, and barking, to remind the woolly beasts who’s the boss.

The plain, square floor plan of the Furriers’ Tower dates its construction back to the 14th century, although it was rebuilt various times, latest at the end of the 17th century. Worth noticing are the narrow window-slits on the top, fourth level for dousing invaders with hot liquids. Over the centuries, fighters armed with spears, halebards, arquebuses, and even a small cannon manned this tower.

the Furriers' Tower, medieval Sighisoara, 14th century - Turnul Cojocarilor
The Furrier’s Tower, Sighisoara – walking into the fortress – Turnul Cojocarilor

The Weavers’ Tower was located between the Furriers’ Tower and the Tailors’ Tower. The Weavers’ Tower was demolished in the mid-19th century together with the fortress wall stretching between the Furriers’ Tower all the way to the Shoemakers’ Tower.

The Tailors’ Tower is a massive baroque-style construction, first mentioned in 1521. Located opposite the Clock Tower it marks the second entrance in Sighisoara fortress. Nowadays is the only access way for cars. It was rebuilt after the big fire of 1676 and today it looks like this:

Journey in medieval city sighisoara. Tailors' Tower, medieval Sighisoara - Turnul Croitorilor
Tailors’ Tower – Turnul Croitorilor – source

Look at the two passageways. They do suggest a 12th – 14th century construction and so are the two ancient porticullis, the metal latticed gates, that lock by sliding vertically to fortify the access way into the fortress.

As mentioned, this tower went up in flames taking with it the adjacent corridor where there was a storage area for projectiles and gunpowder apart from grains and halbards.

The Shoemakers’ Tower, standing since 1522, is quite a spectacular view, proving once again that the strength of a guild lies in its demand. Reconstructed after the fire of 1676 (when it exploded due to the large amount of gunpowder stored inside), it picked up the baroque architectonic influences of the late 17th century.

Shoemakers' Tower Sighisoara plaque - Turnul Cizmarilor - marvel medieval towers fortress
“Shoemakers’ Tower – although it dates from older times, it gained the shape you see today in 1681.” – Turnul Cizmarilor

This was my favorite tower! Do notice the small observation tower (lookout turret if you wish) on the roof visible in the picture below (there are two such towers), and the large windows, so not in the style of the Middle Ages.

Shoemaker's Tower - street entrance - marvel medieval towers fortress
Shoemaker’s Tower – the back entrance

These windows are post World War Two when, for a spell, the tower was turned into a depository of archival documents. The outside wooden staircase is very recent, since 2001.
Today it houses a local radio station.

Shoemakers Tower - roof. Medieval Sighisoara
Note the slanted roof to fend off piling of snow during heavy snowfalls
Shoemakers Tower, Sighisoara - new, wooden staircase
Shoemakers Tower, Sighisoara – the new addition, a wooden staircase

And if you climb the stairs you’re treated to a colorful view:

Shoemaker's Tower view on Sighisoara - marvel medieval towers fortress
A charming view from the balcony

One last look up the Shoemakers’ Tower before we move on, certainly a sight to marvel at as not every day we get to see such medieval towers and Sighisoara fortress is a place far away for many tourists.

Shoemaker's Tower - looking up. marvel medieval towers fortress
Looking up at Shoemaker’s Tower, Sighisoara Fortress

The Locksmiths’ Tower and bastion nearby were part of the main defensive system. This area has seen an explosive history: blown up during a siege in 1706, hit by lightning and burned down in 1809, demolished at the end of the 19th century, making way for the construction of the present Church.

The Ironsmiths’ Tower is a massive tower built in 1631 to protect the fortress and the nearby Monastery Church.

Monastery Church, Sighisoara Fortress - marvel medieval towers fortress
As we spied on the Monastery Church, nestled in the medieval Sighisoara fortress

The tower we see today dates from 1631, raised on top of the Barber’s Tower and rebuilt after the big fire of 1676. At the end of the 19th century it was repurposed as a fire-station. Medieval elements worth noticing are the consoles at the top, protecting the windows, and the machicolations (the floor openings between the corbels, the stones jutting from the wall at the top), and the slits and holes.

marveling medieval towers sighisoara / Ironsmiths' Tower, Turnul Fierarilor
Ironsmiths’ Tower as we saw it, Turnul Fierarilor

And looking up at Ironsmiths’ Tower from the pathway surrounding the fortress:

Ironsmiths Tower medieval Sighisoara  - Turnul Fierarilor - marvel medieval towers fortress
Looking up at Ironsmiths’ Tower from the pathway surrounding the fortress

Looking back – and suddenly it doesn’t look that massive, does it? Perhaps that’s why many attackers thought that they might take it on.

A snow covered path outside the walls of Medieval Sighisoara - marvel medieval towers fortress
Looking at the past…

And with one last look over our shoulder, thinking of its medieval atmosphere, with medieval horns, dark staircases and eerie views, we marvel one last time and bid farewell to the medieval towers of Sighisoara fortress and a snowy winter.

Remember to visit more medieval castles of Romania: Corvin Castle or discover if, without Mircea the Elder, we would have even had a Vlad the Impaler.

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Emperor Aleodor, Romanian Folktale, The End

Emperor Aleodor, Aleodor Imparat, is a Romanian folktale gathered by Romanian folklorist and writer Petre Ispirescu in 1875 and translated into English in 19th by historian and linguist Robert Nisbet Bain. I did very little to edit Nisbet Bain’s skillful translation. I liked his choice of early modern English, I thought it gives Emperor Aleodor a charming old-fashioned patina.
Read part one here and part two here.

Emperor Aleodor, a Romanian folktale, The End

“On the second day, Aleodor bethought him of the crow, and immediately the crow stood before him, and said to him: “What dost thou want, my master?”

“Look now, senseless one, what has happened to me. Canst thou not show me a way out of it?”

“Let us try!” and with that, it struck him with its wing and turned him into a young crow, and placed him in the midst of a flock of crows that were flying high in the air in the teeth of a fierce tempest.

As soon as the damsel woke up that morning she reached for her eye-glass and searched for him in every direction. He was nowhere to be found. She looked for him on the earth, but he was not there. She looked for him in the rivers and in the sea, but he was not there either.

The damsel grew pensive. She searched and searched till mid-day when it occurred to her to look upwards also. And perceiving him in the glory of the sky, in the midst of a swarm of crows, she pointed him out with her finger and cried:

“Look! look! Rogue that thou art! Come down from there, man, that hast made thyself into a bit of a bird! Nothing in the fields of heaven can escape my eye!”

emperor Aleodor Romanian folktale - "Come down from there, man, that hast made thyself into a bit of a bird"

Then he came down, for what else could he do? Even the Emperor himself now began to be amazed at the skill and cunning of Aleodor and lent an ear to the prayers of his daughter. Inasmuch, however, as the deal declared that Aleodor was to hide three times, the Emperor said to his daughter: “Wait once more, for I am curious to see what place he will find to hide himself in next.”

The third day, early in the morning, he thought of the ant, and—whisk!— the ant was by his side. When she had found out what he wanted she said to him: “Leave it to me, and if she doth find thee I am here to help thee.”

So the ant turned him into a flower-seed and hid him in the very plate of the damsel, without her perceiving it.

Then the Emperor’s daughter rose up, took her eye-glass, and sought for him all day long, but look where she would, she could not find him. She plagued herself almost to death in her search, for she felt that he was close at hand, though see him she could not. She looked through her eye-glass on the ground, and in the sea, and up in the sky, but she could see him nowhere, and towards evening, tired out by so much searching, she exclaimed:
“Show thyself then, this once! I feel that thou art close at hand, and yet I cannot see thee. Thou hast conquered, and I am thine.”

emperor Aleodor Romanian folktale, "She plagued herself almost to death in her search, for she felt that he was close at hand, though see him she could not."

Then when he heard her say that he had conquered, he slipped slowly down from her plate and revealed himself. The Emperor had now nothing more to say, so he gave the youth his daughter, and when they departed, he escorted them to the boundaries of his empire with great pomp and ceremony.

While they were on the road they stopped at a place to rest, and after they had refreshed themselves somewhat with food, he laid his head in her lap and fell asleep. The daughter of the Emperor could not forbear from looking at him, and her eyes filled with tears as they feasted on his comeliness and beauty. Then her heart grew soft within her, and she could not help kissing him. But Aleodor, when he awoke, gave her a buffet with the palm of his hand that awoke the echoes.

“Nay but, my dear Aleodor!” cried she, “thou hast indeed a heavy hand.”

“I have slapped thee,” said he, “for the deed thou hast done, for I have not taken thee for myself, but for him who bade me seek thee.”

“Good, my brother! but why didst thou not tell me so at home? for then I also would have known what to do. But let be now, for all that is past, yet nothing is lost.”

Then they set out again till they came alive and well to the Half-man-riding-on-the-worse-half-of-a-lame-rabbit.

“Lo, now! I have done my service,” said Aleodor, and with that he would have departed. But when the girl beheld the monster, she shivered with disgust, and would not stay with him for a single moment. The hideous cripple drew near to the maiden and began to caress her with honeyed words, that so she might go with him willingly. But the girl said to him: “Depart from me, Satan, and go to thy mother Hell, who hath cast thee upon the face of the earth!”

red scarf on antlers

Then the half-monster half-man was near to melting for the love he had for the damsel, and, writhing away on his belly, he murmured fair words and sweet nothings hoping it might help to persuade the maid to be his wife. But meanwhile, the damsel had dug a little trench all round herself and stood rooted to the spot with her eyes fixed on the ground. The hideous Satanic skeleton of a monster could not get at her.

“Depart from the face of the earth, thou abomination!” cried she piercing him with her beautiful eyes one last time, “the world is well rid of such a pestilential monster as thou art!”

Still, he strove and strove to get at her, but finding at last he could not reach her, he burst with rage and fury that a mere woman should have so covered him with shame and reproach.

Then Aleodor added the domain of the Half-man-riding-on-the-worse-half-of-a-lame-rabbit to his own possessions, took the daughter of the Green Emperor to wife, and returned to his own empire.

emperor Aleodor Romanian folktale, Deva Fortress, Romania
The actual Dev Fortress, in Romania

And when his people saw him coming back in the company of a smiling spouse as beautiful as the stars of heaven, they welcomed him with great joy, and, mounting once more his imperial throne, he ruled his people in peace and plenty till the day of he felt tired of life.

And now I’ll mount my horse again, and say an “Our Father” before I go. And I’ll mount my horse once more and hope the story was not a bore.”

~~~The End~~~

I hope yo enjoyed Emperor Aleodor, a Romanian folktale.

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Mircea the Elder and Vlad the Impaler, Family and Historical Ties

Mircea the Elder, Vlad the Imaler, Vlad Tepes, history, family, Dracula nickname

Without the great courage and patriotism of Mircea the Elder, grandfather to Vlad the Impaler, ‘Vlad Dracul‘, Vlad Draculea in Romanian or Dracula the nickname may not have existed.

Sometimes history whispers, and the tales it tells are worth listening to and passing on.

It was in 1395 on this day, March 7, when Mircea the Elder, or Mircea I of Walachia, (Mircea cel Batran in Romanian) signed a coalition treaty with Holy Roman Emperor Sigmund of Luxembourg, King of Hungary and Croatia, king of Germany from 1411, king of Bohemia from 1419 and king of Italy from 1431. The treaty was signed in the beautiful city of Brasov (then Kronstadt) and initiated a military coalition against the Ottoman Empire.

Historical conjunctures during the 14th century Europe

Try to conjure your knowledge of Medieval Europe. Around the 14th century, when The Black Death claimed million of lives, when the Kingdoms of England and France were tormented by the Hundred Years’ War, but also when chivalry was reaching its peak and knights rode in shinning armors, ready to die for an ideal.

At the very same time, Eastern Europe was facing the Ottoman Empire’s increase in power. And the one land that stood in the way of the Turkish countless invasions, fighting them off and acting as a buffer for the Western Europe was Romania, back then still split into Walachia (Tara Romaneasca), Moldavia and Transylvania (incorporated in Hungary, later Holy Roman Empire).

East Europe during the 14th century - Ottoman Empire, Wallachia, Moldovia and Transylvania (still part of Hungary)
East Europe during the 14th century – Ottoman Empire, Wallachia, Moldovia and Transylvania (still part of Hungary)

It was imperative for King Sigismund to strike a military alliance with the rulers of Wallachia, Mircea I at that time, if he wanted to keep his empire intact. Don’t you think so? Good planning…

Sigismund of Luxembourg and the Order of the Dragon

Inspired by the military orders of the Crusades , the Order of the Dragon (Societas Draconistarum, Society of the Dragonists) was a monarchical chivalry founded in 1408 by King Sigismund of Luxembourg. Its members were expected to defend Christianity against all enemies, especially the Muslim Ottoman Empire, and the order was awarded only to few selected members of the nobility.

Order of the Dragon insignia
Order of the Dragon insignia

One such exemplary warrior was Vlad II, the second son of Mircea the Elder. King Sigismund of Luxembourg held Vlad II in highest regard and awarded him the Order of the Dragon on the 8th of February 1431 in Nuremberg for ultimate services in the gruesome fight against the Ottoman Empire.

Vlad II was later known as Vlad Dracul II, Prince of Wallachia, as in Romanian language dragon had close connotations and resonance with dracul, the Romanian word for devil.

Mircea the Elder was Prince of Wallachia from 1386 until his death in 1418.

Vlad II, his son, was Prince of Wallachia from 1436 to 1442 and again from 1443 to 1447.

Vlad III Dracula, Vlad Tepes, Vlad the Impaler, born in 1431 in Sighisoara (some sources state 1429), was the middle son of Vlad Dracul II and grandson of Mircea the Elder (from the Basarab Dynasty).

Mircea the Elder, Vlad II Dracul, Vlad the Impaler, grandfather, son, grandson

History whispers to us today. Mircea the Elder, through his military campaigns and political ties with King Sigismund of Luxembourg, paved the road for Vlad II to join the military coalition against the Ottoman Empire (did he even had a say?) and be awarded the Order of the Dragon later inherited by Vlad the Impaler, Vlad Tepes, and the nickname the Dragon, Dracul, was passed on.

Perhaps without Mircea the Elder we would not have Dracula, Vlad Dracul, after all…

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