Dracula and Kuvaszok - A Historical Paring?
Most "dog people" know a Kuvasz when they see one, but how many know about the breed's history? In fact, there are some aspects of their "potential" history that many knowledgeable Kuvasz people do not even know. This is a story, where two seemingly dissimilar topics are shown to be inter-related.
If you ask a Kuvasz person which historical figure had the biggest impact on the breed, you will hear, "King Mathias Corvinus". Although it's true origin is unknown, some believe that the breed originated in Tibet. Whatever the origin, the Kuvasz has been around for centuries. It is believed that Sumerian herdsmen had used Kuvasz as far back as 8000 B.C. Around 1000 years ago the Kuvasz became a prominent dog in Hungary, traveling to the country with nomads who had bred the dog for livestock protection.
From 1458 to 1490, King Mathias Corvinus ruled a violent and turbulent Hungary. (But then that entire area of Europe was in constant turmoil during that period) Times were extremely volatile and overthrown monarchs and kingdoms were very common. During this period the breed was more of a nobleman's breed and was purposely kept out of the hands of the common man. It has been told that King Mathias trusted neither his guards nor any of his family members. The only thing he did put is trust in were his dogs. He was known to always have one with him and it was not uncommon for him to have one in the castle with him at night while in his study. He had a well respected kennel of Kuvaszok, which were not only used for guarding but sometimes for hunting wild boar and bears. King Mathias was also known for giving Kuvaszok to dignitaries and nobility as gifts. This well known fact (at least among the Kuvasz fancy) is the basis for this story.
During the time when King Mathias ruled Hungary there was another prince who ruled a neighboring country. His name was Vlad Tepes (pronounced tsep-pesh), also known as Vlad the Impaler, also known as Dracula. Vlad Tepes was born in 1431 in Transylvania in the town of Schassburg. He ruled the country of Wallachia in 1448, 1456-1462, and again in 1476 when he was killed fighting to regain the Wallachian Throne from the Turks. Vlad's father was also called Vlad, and also known as Dracul. Dracul and Dracula were actually nicknames, Dracul meant "devil" in Rumanian, it also meant "dragon". Dracula's father was associated with the Order of the Dragon which was a semi-monastic, semi-military group whose sole purpose was fighting the Turks. The name Dracula means, "son of the dragon" or "son of the devil". Dracula got his name "Vlad the Impaler" due to his ingenious ways of torturing his enemies. His favorite form of torture was, as his name implies, impaling his victims.
King Mathias was the son of John Hunyadi. Hunyadi was not fond of Dracul's family, and the feelings were pretty much mutual. Dracul held Hunyadi responsible for a Christian defeat against the Turks in the mid 1400's. Shortly after which, in 1447, Hunyadi had Dracul and Mircea (Dracula's brother) assassinated. Dracula, who was then about 20 years old, fled to safe asylum in Moldavia. Dracula remained in exile in Moldavia until 1451, when his host, Prince Bogdan, was assassinated. Dracula returned to Transylvania and threw himself upon the mercies of his once enemy, John Hunyadi. The two were politically bound to each other (mutual self-interest) from then until 1456 when Hunyadi died. During his on again off again reign, Dracula was well know for his ferocious atrocities to men, women and children. In order to try to scare off his enemies, he commonly had his enemies impaled in many various poses and set up surrounding his castle.
Vlad, as many of his contemporaries, spent most of his life in and out of battles with the Turks. In 1462, with the Turks hard on his trail, Dracula threw himself at the mercy of John Hunyadi's son, King Mathias. The king had indicated that he would give military aid to Dracula, but upon his arrival, instead of granting asylum the king had Dracula incarcerated. He was then sent to Budapest and later to Visegrad where he spend the next 12 years of his life. The reason for this sudden turn of events is believed to be that the Germans had forged some letters in Dracula's name which had him promising military aid to the Turks against King Mathias. The Germans then conveniently had the letters intercepted by the king's servants.
While Dracula was incarcerated in Visegrad he caught the interest of Mathias's sister. Possibly due to this new twist of events, Dracula's incarceration became progressively more lenient. Dracula ended up marrying Mathias' sister and when he was released from prison, Mathias gave them a house in Pest. Dracula was also known to accompany Mathias on raids and it is said that they often worked out battle plans together.
Now for the purely hypothetical part of this story. What we already know: Dracula really did exist, Dracula lived during the time King Mathias lived. King Mathias was famous for giving Kuvaszok to dignitaries, of which, Dracula was one. Dracula and King Mathias, not only interacted with each other, but they were also related by marriage and politics. We may presume just from the above, that Dracula had to have some encounters with King Mathias's Kuvaszok, either friendly or hostile, and with Vlad's reputation the later may be more believable. But, isn't it also possible, even likely, since the breed was such a superb guard dog, and because the times were so incredibly violent, and King Mathias was so famous for his love, trust and devotion to the breed, that maybe Dracula had a small kennel, did some breeding of his own, and therefore some of the dogs we see today possibly have ancestors that came from Dracula's kennels? There is really no way to know, since so many of the dogs were killed off during WWII, but, it does seem to me to be a plausible assumption considering the known facts of the two men. Just something to ponder next time you walk up to pet that beautiful white Kuvasz, you might even want to check for small droplets of blood dripping from the dog's canines. Happy vampire hunting.
McNally, Raymond T.; Florescu, Radu. "In Search of Dracula: A true History of Dracula and Vampire Legends". 1972. New York Graphic Society, Greenwich, Conn.