Here some light is shed on "Dracula" (no pun intened...okay maybe a little). I point out that while he was a rather charismatic man (not to mention sadistic), he wasn't very much a vampyre by any stretch of the imagination. Just a pretty awesome historical figure that kicked some serious bad guy booty, albeit using some fairly sickening methods.
This was something I wrote to help address a research question somebody who frequents this site proposed to me. I have since revised it for use on Yahoo! Answers for such questions as this a few times. Because of the intended audiences in these scenarios, it is very much a "summary" report, and is by no means a definitive source of information on this topic. If you really want to delve deep into the subject matter then you should really consider doing some heavy research outside of this article. Without further adieu, I present to you, "The History of Dracula" (more-or-less):
The literary Dracula? Not much to tell just read the book.
The actual, historical Dracula? He was no vampyre. He was a charismatic leader, but he was no vampyre. His father was King of their city, but then it came under siege. The attackers killed his father I believe. Vlad Drakul (Dracula) was the heir to the throne so, of course, he wanted the city back, but the fact that he was to be King one day gave him a sense of "possession" over the city since it was rightly his.
So, he took a regiment of men and fought his way out of the city through the underworkings and fled the land some leagues away. He then ordered a military castle to be built. They stockpiled the arms and armor, food, etc., recruited men, and he set out to destroy one of the castles in which the attackers resided (but not his home). He won and laid claim upon the castle. This continued for quite some time (attack a castle, take it over, reinforce it for battle, then attack the next one, etc.) until he finally drove the attackers out of Transylvania (and I believe the larger part of Romania), and reclaimed the land that was rightfully his.
I believe the third-to-the-last castle he had constructed is the one where the festival is held (Castle Drakul).
Since Vlad was constantly out-numbered and out-armed, his strength lay in the capabilities of psychological warfare. For one, he depended on the attackers coming to him, so he fortified his castles/forts as best as he could. This gave him a rather large advantage in that he then had the advantage of surprise since the enemy did not know the terrain or what was coming once they entered the perimeter. Aside from maintaining the element of surprise, though, he also took advantage of mankind's empathy and squeamishness, and preyed on that. When he killed men, he did not just kill them and leave them to die; no. He publicly humiliated them with a slow and painful death.
When one of his forts was attacked (he won), he rounded up all of the enemy survivors and set them on wooden posts. These wooden posts were sharp on one end and rounded off at the other. The sharp end was placed deep into the ground with the rounded end facing skyward. The rounded end was rather small (diameter-wise) and tapered larger as it got closer to the center of the pole. Vlad then would oil the tops of the poles (round-ends), and placed his victims/the survivors on them. He made it so that the pole entered their rectum and they were stuck in that position. Slowly but surely the victims would slide down the poles (due to the oil), stretching their rectum and slowly crushing their internal organs together as they were forced upwards. After this, the enemy pretty much said, "Whoa! Dude! You're crazy! Forget this!" and then backed off/left the country since the enemy soldiers lost the will to fight after this. (Even though they would have won had the retaliated, they were too afraid of what might happen.)
Also, he had a tendency to gather up the survivors, force them to stand, and drive large wooden stakes/posts through their abdomen. He would then prop them up on the post and leave them to die on display for all to see their blood and agony, and hear their moans and pleas for help. This is how he obtained the name "Vlad the Impaler."
Vlad was always on the watch for betrayal among his own men. Fearing that they would try to poison him, he always had whomever cooked the meal take a few bites/sips first to see if it was, indeed, safe to ingest. The same goes for letters he would have the messenger open the letters for fear that a poisonous substance be placed across the seal or the contents.
Dracula and Vampyrism
The reason he was associated with vampyrism is most likely due to a painting of him eating and drinking wine (which was red) with many bloody, impaled corpses in the background. This painting was likely, however, made to instill fear into the hearts of his opponents to show that he was "crazy" and that the sight did not kill his appetite. The enemy likely named him a vampyre, and I'm sure he did not argue against it since it made them fear him even more.