"when the Magyar, the Lombard, the Avar, the Bulgar, or the Turk poured his thousands on our frontiers"
Map showing location of Lombards and Avars, 600 AD
Public DomainMap showing location of Lombards and Avars, 600 AD - Credit: wikimedia commons

The Lombards were a Germanic tribe that dominated an area of Northern Italy bordering the Alps from the 6th to 8th centuries. The Avars settled in Dacia in the 6th century, and were defeated by Charlemagne around 800 AD. By 'Turks', Dracula means the people of the Ottoman Empire, one of the largest and longest lived empires in history, which existed from the 13th to the 20th centuries. The Ottoman Empire had a long history of conflict with Eastern Europe.


In The Land Beyond the Forest, Emily Gerard observes that the people of Transylvania, whose history is so full of conflict, appear to have never moved out of their state of constant readiness for battle:


The Ottoman Empire
Public DomainThe Ottoman Empire - Credit: Atilim Gunes Baydin on wikimedia commons





“Living in Transylvania, we are sometimes inclined to wonder whether to be besieged by Turks and Tartar be really a thing of the past, and not rather an actual danger for which we must be prepared any day, so strangely are many little observances relating to those times still kept up. Thus in the belfry tower at Kaisd there hangs a little bell bearing a Gothic inscription and the date 1506. It is rung every evening at the usual curfew hour, and until within a very few years ago the watchman was under the obligation of calling forth into the night with stentorian voice, “Not this way, you villains! not this way! I see you well!””


Gerard goes on to describe the custom of storing food in churches, offering her reader this amusing anecdote:


““We have seven chapels all full of bacon,” I was once proudly informed by a village church-warden; but, with the innate mistrust of his race, he would not indulge my further curiosity on the subject by suffering me to inspect the interior of these greasy sanctuaries, evidently suspecting me of sinister intentions on his bacon stores.”