In the late-15th century, Eastern Europe witnesses
many changes. Coaches replace oxcarts, drastically reducing
travel time between distant cities. After gunpowder is
perfected, the brutality of the Renaissance mercenary replaces
the chivalry of the medieval knight. Feudal
responsibility slowly changes as peasants resist the yoke of
oppression. By daylight, industrious men and women struggle
to drive back the darkness of the Middle Ages.
Once the sun sets, however, even hopeful mortals flee
the growing shadows. Fearfully, they keep their hearth fires
blazing, barricading themselves inside their homes. The
veil separating the living and the dead is gossamer thin.
When it parts, the resultant horrors drive sane men mad.
Ancient creatures rule the night in Eastern Europe, even in
the largest cities.
Hardestadt’s Proposal and the Transylvanian Reaction
As we have seen, Hardestadt of Clan Ventrue first advanced
the idea of a unified society of vampires in 1435. At first
blush, many Transylvanians rejected the idea outright. Some
stated that the concept had been tried and rejected in the
voivodate centuries ago. In the 12th century, the nominal rulers
of Transylvania composed a coterie known as the Council of
Ashes to watch over the vampires of their seven domains.
Of course, the Council failed miserably. Princes who
thought they would bring order to the voivodate allowed petty
struggles and political differences to tear their alliance apart.
The neonates they ruled rose up against them. After destroying
that failed society, the same vampires weren’t terribly
enthusiastic about letting elders rebuild it under another
name. The idea of “one unified society” was an amusing
theory, but in the lands beyond the forest, Transylvanian
vampires paid it little notice.
Travelers from other parts of Europe insisted that thls political
union would be different. The Camarilla could offer benefits the
council never provided. Nova Arpad’s scheme was little more than
a coterie of seven vampires forced to report to the Saxon
Ventrue, but the Camarilla would allow hundreds of princes to
watch over Cainite activity in the major cities of Europe. They
could enforce the Six Traditions and uphold standards of civility
that could prevent disputes between Caine’s childer.
The idea was far ahead of its time, especially in Transylvania.
For many reasons, the concept was too dangerous to take hold.
To begin with, the idea of the Camarilla depended on princes
who could stress and advance mortal concepts of civility and
humanity. Historically, Transylvanian princes never had absolute
control over their domains. In the lands beyond the forest,
many of the local princes ruled in theory, but not in practice.
In some cases, such as the Domain of Klausenburg, the
only quality that separated a prince from the vampires he
allegedly ruled was his ability to defeat them in battle. In the
court of Prince Mitru, for instance,Trial by Ordeal was still the
most common method of resolving disputes. Vampiric rulers
made for great figureheads in dramatic ceremonies, but enforcing
their beliefs was another matter entirely.
Proponents of the Camarilla faced another severe obstacle.
Throughout Transylvania’s history, Western societies
had repeatedly tried to impose their laws and culture on
Eastern Europe. In the same manner, many Transylvanian
Cainites cursed the Saxon Ventrue as a monolithic society
established to rob the Romanian vampires of their independence.
Thus, the Camarilla initially looked like another scheme
that the Germanic Ventrue and other Western clans would
use to seize control of Romanian land. Transylvania had its
own traditions, and they did not die easily. The events of the
next few years would illustrate that quite vividly.
All of these arguments discouraged Transylvanians from
readily accepting the idea of the Camarilla, but one drastic
event forced them to reconsider. In 1437, the peasants of
Transylvania unified to overthrow the masters of the state.
History books tell us that they revolted to secure rights the
Szeklers and Saxons already possessed. Cainites recall that the
peasants didn’t rise up against just their mortal rulers.
Many Romanians who fought in the Bobolna Revolts
suspected that their taras and tirsas were threatened by supematural
creatures. The Silence of Blood was little more than a pretense
in Transylvania, the least significant of the Six Traditions. As the
houses of mortal rulers were set ablaze, flames spread to the havens
of the nobles’ Cainite masters. In an era when witch-hunts were
common, mobs of Transylvanian peasants gathered torches and
pitchforks to destroy the refuges of suspected vampires.
In response, the mortal nobility of Transylvania quickly
and brutally crushed the Bobolna rebellion. Mortal rulers
gathered in Hermanstadt to discuss the sovereignty of the
Three Estates of Transylvania. The Hungarian overlords
recognized Saxons and Szeklers to be members of independent
nations, but the Romanians were never granted the same
privileges. Instead, the nobility increased taxation on Romanian
lands, demanded more “voluntary” forced labor from
serfs, and reduced the number of independent communes
where Romanians could own their own property. Simply put,
the rich became richer, and the poor became poorer.
Rebellious mortals were unable to take further action
against the nobility, but the undead had no such restrictions.
Throughout Transylvania, many Romanian Cainites were outraged
that ruling vampires could allow such injustice to thrive.
How could European nobility reap profits from crops Romanians
sowed? If the Romanians had settled Transylvania over a
thousand years ago, how could they have fewer rights than the
Saxons and Szeklers who seized their land? And wasn’t it odd
that the eldest vampires benefited the most from this?
The analogy was obvious. The “princes” who claimed to
rule mortal cities used the same tactics as the Hungarian
nobility. Hungarian nobles used political power to exploit
their subjects for financial gain. Transylvanian princes considered
themselves the rightful guardians of the Six Traditions,
but vampires who had survived in Transylvania for centuries
knew that rulers were corrupted by such authority. Princes
passed judgment on neonates to oppress and exploit those who
did not kneel before them. Whenever the disenfranchised
insisted on the same rights as the wealthy, politics and imposed
morality became methods for subjugating the masses.
Elders indifferent to this vituperation incited the Romanian
anarchs to further acts of violence. As the youngest
childer continued to malign the conspiracies of their elders,
many realized that the proposed Camarilla was just one more way
for a few to hold power over many. The fate of the Romanians,
the descendants of the original settlers of Dacia,
showed what the Westerners really intended for the
Transylvanians. Vampires weren’t really all that different.
In response, elders argued that the Bobolna Revolts were
actually an illustration of Transylvania’s desperate need for
stronger government. If the Cainites couldn’t strengthen their
holdovermortalsociety,i t wouldbe all tooeasy formortals toroot
them out again. The Ebbolna Revolts started because of a lack of
Cainite authority, not injustice. Moreover, if the Transylvanian
Cainites had upheld the Silence of Blood more rigidly, as the
Founders were suggesting, the revolution wouldn’t have turned
into a hunt against unseen vampiric masters. Hardestadt’s ideas
encouraged subtle manipulation of mortal history; anarchistic
ideas of absolute freedom did not. In the wake of the rebellion,
conflict between neonates and elders intensified.
Such debates continued for many years throughout the
voivodate, but these theories remained little more than intellectual
diversions to many Transylvanians. Then, in 1453, one
of the most important events in Cainite history shocked the
vampires of Eastem Europe from their complacency. In that
year, the armies of the Ottoman Empire began their relentless
assault on Constantinople. Constantine Paleologus, the mortal
ruler of the city, watched in terror from his palace as
thousands of soldiers crashed through the city gates to pillage,
loot, slaughter and destroy. The unthinkable had happened -
the advancing hordes of the paynim had devastated Christian
Europe’s first line of defense. The Ottoman Empire advanced
toward Bulgaria, threatening the security of Eastern Europe.
Vampires are egotistical creatures, eager to assign praise or
blame among their own kind for the mortals’ greatest achievements.
Throughout Cainite society, many elders theorized
which vampires were responsible for the fall of Constantinople.
Those who knew of the Jyhad – the eternal struggle between
Ancients – believed that a shadowy power had called for this
crusade as part of an ancient grudge against Michael, the
Toreador Methuselah who watched over the city.
Others blamed the Assamites, claiming that the masters
of Alamut had designs on the rest of Europe. After all, many
knew that Arabic vampires traveled in the wake of the advancing
Turkish host. As mortal kingdoms fell prey to Ottoman
raids, Saracens used the opportunity to their advantage, stalking
the undead rulers of the adjacent domains. Both the mortal
threat of the Turks and the unseen threat of the Assamites
forced the Children of Caine to take action.
When news of the advance of the Ottoman Empire
reached Transylvania, the rulers of the voivodate were shocked.
For centuries, they thought the real threats to their freedom
came from the Ventrue of the Holy Roman Empire and the
other Western clans. Now a new menace arose from the south.
Ventrue, Tzimisce and Tremere all asked the same question:
Could Eastern Europe defend itself against the next assault?
Supporters of the Camarilla capitalized on this opportunity.
The threat of a common enemy made the idea of a unified
society of Cainites far more acceptable. Caine’s childer could
no longer allow themselves to be isolated by distance and
ideologies. Until 1453, no one thought Constantinople would
fall, but it did. In the same manner, no one believed that any
one force could destroy the secret societies the Cainites had
constructed. Now one empire threatened all of Europe. If the
Children of Caine could form an alliance, they could prevent
such an atrocity from happening again. As part of this, it was
clear that the Saracens were a threat that had to be stopped.
Others replied that the real problem wasnot Clan Assamite,
but the Ancients. In fact, some suggested the Assamites had the
right idea. The Saracens destroyed Bulgarian princes and their
lackeys, but they also threatened the Inconnu and others. In
other parts of Europe, anarchs destroyed the hierarchy of
vampiric power not just to secure their own freedom, but to
prevent the manipulation of the elder generations. If the
destruction of Constantinople was a result of the Jyhad, the
formation of a European society of vampires wouldn’t prevent
such an atrocity from happening again. In fact, acting as slaves
to the eldest Cainites would only encourage further incidents.
Another debate concerning the Camarilla relied upon
ethical issues. Supposedly, Camarilla princes could pass judgment
on the so-called “moral” beliefs of the Cainites, applying
human standards of morality to vampires. Civility was allegedly
a means to preserve “humanity.” This rapidly became an
extremely personal and vitriolic issue. The Cainites of
Transylvania had followed many different Roads during the
Dark Ages. Abandoning a philosophy that had kept Cainites
sane for centuries is not an easy task – spiritual fulfillment is
not easily sacrificed for political convenience.
Once again, Transylvanian history refined this political
issue. Other cultures had tried to enforce outside standards of
morality in Transylvania long before the Founders’ ideas.
Anyone who had survived in the voivodate for centuries could
recall the conflict between the Roman Catholic Church in
Rome and the Eastern Orthodox Church in Constantinople.
Centuries ago, the spread of Catholicism was used in an
attempt to unify Eastern Europe with the rest of Christian
Europe. To the Romanians, religion became a method of
eroding Transylvanian culture and dictating ideology. The
Eastern Orthodox Church acted as a contrary force, attempting
to advance Eastern mystical tradition as a way to define a
common culture in the East. No wonder Westerners think of
the stereotypical Transylvanian vampire as a creature who
recoils at the sight of a cross.
The Transylvanians were jaded. They had seen it all before.
Another government was trying to gain support in the voivodate
by questioning theold ways and traditional practices. Transy1vania
already had its own culture, its own religion, and its own law.
Many elders stressed that they didn’t need the Western clans to
preach to them about the need for an outside government to
“civilize” them once again. The old ways had endured.
AND THE DRACULESTI-DANFEEUSTDI
The staunchest resistance to the Camarilla came from
Clan Tzimisce. While other countries in Europe respected the
idea of a society where elders could use prestation to exchange
boons, the Tzimisce utterly rejected it. The oldest and most
powerful clan in Transylvania did not need to recognize such
arbitrary ideas. Their own traditions for resolving disputes had
evolved. They used methods that didn’t depend on princes
recognized by the Western Cainites.
Among the Fiends, the strongest ruled. Trial by War and
Trial by Ordeal were common practices. Tzimisce practiced
these traditions openly. From the earliest nights of Hungary,
when the Arpads and other nobles attempted to subjugate
Transylvania, Tzimisce schemed to set them against each
other. In the more remote portions of eastern Transylvania,
they crushed them or brought them into their clan. Fiends used
the mortal lines of nobility in Transylvania as their breeding
stock. Some were cultivated so carefully that they evolved into
the many families of revenants known tonight.
Over time, Transylvanian mortal politics and Tzimisce politicsbecame
one and the same. Transylvaniannobles with centuries
of breeding became pawns in Tzimisce conflicts. An excellent
illustration of this from Cainite history was the manipulation of the
Basarab noble line. For centuries, two families-the Draculesti and
Danesti – contested for control of Wallachia and southern
Transylvania. The fighting was especially brutal because the rulers
of Wallachia did not recognize primogeniture. Once a mortal ruler
died, there was no guarantee his son would succeed him. Instead,
dozens of bym fought to support – or be – the next prince.
Controlling nobles and boyars required the Tzimisce to develop
legacies, manipulat ing mortal rulers over generations. Mortals
who were capable of using treachery and threats of violence rose
to positions of authority. Their enemies were tortured, exiled or
merely killed. When Vlad the Impaler, a Draculesti noble,
became a threat to the Tzimisce, Danesti Fiendsmaintained their
ancient grudges against his noble house. According to the Fiends,
the other clans had no right to intercede in such disputes.
The Fiends also had no desire to cower and hide like lesser
creatures. They openly bred mortals like cattle and orchestrated
mortal conflicts to cull t h e herds. Their victims were called “kine”
for a reason. Human herds were raised in the shadows of terrible
castles over generations. In addition, the Tzimisce corrupted and
suborned mortal Transylvanian nobility more thoroughly than any
other clan, including the Ventrue. The idea ofa separation between
the world of the living and the undead was ludicrous.
There was no room for the Silence of Blood in the
philosophy of the Transylvanian Tzimisce. Thus, the arguments
for hiding behind mortal society and erecting the
shifting mirrors of the Camarilla fell on deaf ears. The elders
of Clan Tzimisce saw no need to accept standards of civility
valued in other parts of Europe. Their opposition was so severe
that the Ventrue abandoned all hope of gaining their support
for the Founders’ society of Cainites.
VLADTH E DRAGON
AND THE SILENOCFE B LOOD
By contrast, the idea of vampires hiding their true nature from
mortals was crucial to supporters of the Camarilla. The “Masquerade”
they proposed had its precedent in the Silence of the Blood.
With the growing threat of the Inquisition, the thought of “hiding
one’s presence from those not of the blood” was a simple survival
instinct. In Transylvania and Wallachia, however, the idea of the
Cainites preferred to demonstrate their undead strength openly
before the local rulers of Transylvania. In the secret chambers of
noble estates, they forced the nobility to submit to their will.
An excellent historical example of this type of alliance
was the agreement between Durga Syn of Clan Ravnos and
Vlad the Dragon, the mortal prince of Wallachia.
In the early 15 th century, continuous anarch raids in Tara
Romaneasca not only terrified the local peasants, but threatened
the wily Ravnos’ elder allies. To stop this, Durga Syn
informedvlad the Dragon about the world of the undead. The
Ravnos became his most valuable (if least reliable) advisor.
With Cainite guidance, Vlad’s armies easily drove these warriors
from their midst. Vlad kneeled before Durga Syn to
receive her immortal knowledge. This was a dangerous precedent,
but in Eastern Europe, few would question the motives
of such a powerful vampire.
Of course, the threat of the Turks still remained. No
nation resisted the advance of the Ottoman Empire more
fervently than Transylvania. While the Founders’ supporters
used the “advance of the paynim” to rationalize a unified
society in Eastern Europe, the vampires of those domains soon
grew tired of that patronizing argument. There was a good
reason for this. The mortals of their domains had done their
best to resist the Turks. Their failures in 1444 and 1456 had
thoroughly demoralized Eastern Europe.
It didn’t take much vampiric influence to stir up an army
against the Turkish invaders. Janos Hunyadi, a wealthy merchant
trained by once of the finest military minds in Europe, achieved
that goal without Cainite assistance. With the Transylvanian
military at his command, Hunyadi rushed to meet the advancing
troopsofthesultan. Sadly, hiscampaignwas adisaster. Inaddition
to using poorly chosen tactics, Hunyadi’s army had grossly underestimated
the strength of the Turks.
At Hunyadi’s trial for his alleged incompetence, Vlad the
Dragon stated that the Ottoman Sultan typically went “on a
mere hunting expedition with more troops than the Christians
brought to this battle.” Turkish forces easily repelled the
Eastern European crusaders. Hunyadi fled; only with the
assistance of Wallachian peasants was he able to find safety.
Though Vlad the Dragon tried to blame Hunyadi for the
failure of the campaign, Hunyadi’s widespread support as the
“White Knight of Christendom’’ prevented the Dragon’s
scandal from succeeding. In 1456, Hunyadi gathered an army
in Hunedoara and prepared another anti-Turkish Crusade.
His ally, St. JohnofCapistranoraisedanarmyofTransylvanian
peasants to aid him. Independently, the armies of St. John and
Hunyadi moved toward Belgrade. Fanaticism proved to be a
greater force than sheer force of arms, for St. John’s army fared
better than Hunyadi’s. The triumph of 8,000 peasants armed
with farm implements against the Turkish host was nothing
short of miraculous.
Hunyadi’s crusade reestablished the southern border of
Wallachia, but within a few months, it could press no further.
Weather and disease proved to be the two most deadly
adversaries to the gathered armies. Swarms of infected rats
followed the carnage inflicted by the Turkish host. As a result,
Hunyadi himself died of plague not far from Belgrade. The
crusader ideal died with him.
There was no reason for the Transylvanians to blame the
Turkish advance on Clan Assamite. The vampires of Eastern
Europe knew that the Turks didn’t need supernatural allies to
lead them into battle. These Cainites held little hope of
Western European nations unifying to rush to their aid. If the
clans were unified, it wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference
to the Ottoman Empire. The argument for Cainite unity
against the Assamites and the Turks worked in other parts of
the world, but it seemed irrelevant to vampires who had seen
mortal crusades fail first-hand.
THED RACULPAR OBLEANMD THE CONVOCATOIOF NME RMANSTADT
While modem Cainites are familiar with general arguments
regarding the Camarilla, these issues take their own
unique slant in the voivodate of Transylvania. The Inquisition
is often cited as a reason for the Camarilla’s formation.
When Transylvanians refer to witch-hunts, they often cite
the treachery of one man: Vlad the Impaler.
As we’ve noted already, Vlad the Dragon, one of the
mortal princes of Wallachia, was well informed about the
undead. His son, Vlad the Impaler, became even more infamous.
During his rule, he was known to demonstrate his
authority through acts of severe brutality. Before leading his
crusade against the Ottoman Empire, for instance, he secured
his northern border by slaughtering thousands of
Transylvanians. His honor guard, the Axes, impaled tens of
thousands of mortals and left them to rot as an example to any
who questioned his rule.
Cainites suspected that the Son of the Dragon had another
motivation. Vlad the Impalerwasanobleofthe Draculesti
line. Several of the Danesti nobles, the members of an enemy
house, received the support of the unseen vmnpyr. When the
Impaler found evidence of this, he led a pogrom through the
countryside to destroy these foul creatures, just as his father
had done before him.
When the veil that separates the living and the undead is
parted, the result is horror in its blackest form. Obviously, the
Tzimisce of southern Transylvania had little regard for the Silence
of the Blood. The resulting Inquisition threatened all the vampires
of the region. In the years that followed, the Impaler’s executioners
destroyed dozens ofvampires. Eventually, tales oMad the Impaler’s
butchery were retold throughout the Holy Roman Empire. These
stories became the basis of the legend of Count Dracula, the
bloodthirsty butcher that descended from Draculesti nobles.
The many facets of “the Dracula problem” became a
common topic among Transylvanian vampires. In fact, the
ConvocationofHermanstadt in 1472 (showninAct Oneofthis
book) was called largely to address this problem. The Tzimisce
insisted that they had the right to address the issue on their own;
other clans weren’t as willing to trust the Fiends’ sense of justice.
Although the Camarilla wasn’t extensive enough to conduct an
actual trial of this mortal, the arguments concerning Cainites
meddling in kine society continued for many years afterward.
In the 15th century, the value of the Camarilla became the
most dangerous topic of debate among Transylvanian Cainites.
Due to many events inCainite history- the fall ofConstantinople,
the Bobolna Rebellion, the Draculesti-Danesti feud, and Vlad
Tepes’ inquisition – Transylvania’s history would continue to
taint these discussions for centuries afterward.