Monday, April 21, 2008

Matthias castles

Murrough O'Brien on Marcus Tanner's biography of Matthias Corvinus, the Raven King, who ruled Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Transylvania, part of present-day Austria, Slovakia and Ruthenia in the fifteenth century:
This paragon of tolerance and magnanimity had some unlikely dinner guests – Vlad "the Impaler" Tepes (perhaps better known now as Dracula) being one. When I suggest that Matthias kept him as a sort of anti-mascot, a lightning rod to draw off divine wrath, Tanner hits me with an astonishing fact. "For an awful lot of what we know about Dracula, Matthias is the source, and he had a wicked sense of humour. There was the papal nuncio sitting there and Matthias would be saying: 'Of course, I haven't told you: he puts babies on spikes, he really enjoys cutting pregnant women to pieces and stuff.' Now the papal nuncio was writing this all down. I think Matthias got a real buzz out of that... he obviously didn't take it seriously. After all, he allowed his own cousin to marry Dracula... Matthias could say he had a Dracula at the end of the garden."

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