I think Stoker has gypsy minions to Dracula. My question is whether folklore predates this or it was Stoker's invention which gave rise also to werewolves (as in Siodmak's flicks)?

  • 3
    Many Romani are from Romania, and much vampire and werewolf folklore also originated from Romania. Since Dracula lived in what is now Romania, while Bram Stoker's decision to give Dracula Romani minions probably partook of some of the anti-Romani prejudice common at the time, it was also kind of natural—but the later association between vampires and Romani ran away with that idea and made it more firmly stereotyped.
    – Adamant
    Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 1:12
  • 1
    I guess what I am saying is that if there was any such association, it was probably just a generic tendency to associate Romani with whatever bad things was going on, be it vampires, devil worship, whatever. As with Jews. Less "Romani work with vampires" specifically and more a tendency to assume that anyone perceived as evil would truck with evil supernatural entities in general.
    – Adamant
    Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 1:17
  • @Adamant one could interpret it as plausible that a marginalized group wd be forced into such "employment" and their loyalty is genuine towards the only "leader" (dracula) who helped them.
    – releseabe
    Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 3:03
  • 1
    @J-J-J Yes, It seems to happen sometime between the early and mid 1800's. Neither Varney the Vampire (1847) nor Polidori's The Vampyre (1819) mention Romani or Gypsies, under any of the spellings I can find and use for a search, at least not in the context of assistants to vampires.
    – bob1
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 20:03
  • 1
    @J-J-J I did not know that - I'll go back and have a look... Nothing I can see in those two I mentioned for Egyptians - though one character in Varney does travel through Egypt.
    – bob1
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 20:23

1 Answer 1


The association with vampires absolutely does not originate from Stoker's Dracula, and for association with werewolves you can find references at least as old as the 18th century. This is in line with the long-lasting negative stereotype of Romani people being associated with magic and witchcraft:

The double image of ‘gypsy magic’ as demonically inspired and entirely fraudulent was not a nineteenth-century invention: it was based in long-standing stereotypes about the Roma with roots in the first records of the western European Romani diaspora in the early fifteenth century.

Besides all the points made in the comment section by @Adamant, a specific example from folklore of an association between vampires and Romani people is the monster Karnabo, said to be born from a "Gypsy" and a ghoul. A written account of this legend, predating Dracula by a few years, is available in French in Traditions, coutumes, légendes et contes des Ardennes by Albert Meyrac (1890 – the legend is certainly older than that).

You can also find an evocation of the "vampire" stereotype in a famous non-fantasy novel predating Dracula, Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (1831). At some point the character Esmeralda is unjustly accused of association with witches and vampires, because she's Romani (more specifically, in the original text in French, the characters use the word "stryge" rather than vampire, but this has been translated as "vampire" in the 1888 translation by Isabel Florence Hapgood.)

Another example is the fantasy novel L'Île de Feu (alternative title: Le médecin de Java) by Alexandre Dumas (1859), where the antagonist is a barkasaham (i.e. a vampire) commanding "gypsies" (automated translation from p.113 of the volume 2):

"Perhaps", said the Javanese prince, who seemed to be thinking. "Harruch", he continued after a few moments, "you taught me that the one now called Noungal, who now commands the gypsies of the sea, was a barkasaham, that is, one of those pure spirits who, with the help of the devil, have stolen from the Lord one of the rays of his glorious power; one of those vampires who draw from the blood of their victims the eternity of an existence dedicated to evil; but at the same time you told me that strength, combined with cunning could overcome the evil barkasaham. Harruch, will you help me with this task?

In Les Rômes, histoire vraie des vrais Bohémiens (1857), Jean-Alexandre Vaillant describes some of the prejudice suffered by Romani people since the 15th century, and mentions scenes of people calling them Katkaon (blood-sucking ogres) and Strigoi in order to frighten young people (automated translation):

In some countries, if a young girl takes pity on one of them and puts a coin in his hand, the governess cries out: "Beware, my dear", shouts the distraught governess, "it's a Katkaon, an ogre who will come to suck your blood tonight while you sleep"; and the girl recoils, shivering; if some young boy passes close enough to them for his shadow to be drawn on the wall at the foot of which they are sitting, where a whole family is eating or resting in the sun: "Off with you! These Strigoï (vampires) will take your shadow, and your soul will dance the Sabbath with them for all eternity".

There are certainly much older texts documenting that, but this was just to show that the association with vampires does not originate from Dracula.

As for the association between Romani people and werewolves, you can find examples at least as old as the Goethe's poem Zigeunerlied ("Gipsy Song", 1772), where a Romani person relates her encounter with werewolves – whom she actually knows:


In the drizzling mist, with the snow high-piled,

In the winter night, in the forest wild,

I heard the wolves with their ravenous howl,

I heard the screaming note of the owl:

Wille wau wau wau!

Wille wo wo wo!

Wito hu!

I shot, one day, a cat in the ditch—

The dear black cat of Anna the witch;

Upon me, at night, seven were-wolves came down,

Seven women they were, from out of the town.

Wille wau wau wau!

Wille wo wo wo!

Wito hu!

I knew them all; ay, I knew them straight;

First, Anna, then Ursula, Eve, and Kate,

And Barbara, Lizzy, and Bet as well:

And forming a ring, they began to yell:

Wille wau wau wau!

Wille wo wo wo!

Wito hu!

Then called I their names with angry threat:

"What wouldst thou, Anna? What wouldst thou, Bet?"

At hearing my voice, themselves they shook,

And howling and yelling, to flight they took.

Wille wau wau wau!

Wille wo wo wo!

Wito hu!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.