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Vlad Dracula was born to the house of Draculesti and Ruled the lands of Wallachia (what is now Romania) in the mid to late 1400’s. Vlad III, or Vlad the Impaler, as he is commonly referred to today, was one of the cruelest men who ever lived.
He was held as a hostage by the Ottoman empire for his fathers good faith and Ottoman support of Wallachia. When his father and older brother were killed by the armies of Hungary Vlad returned to Wallachia to take his rightful place. He did not remain in power long and was quickly ousted by rival factions.
Vlad fled to Moldavia and lived for a time under the protection of his uncle Bogdan II. When Bogdan was assassinated Vlad fled to Hungary. He impressed the regent with his knowledge of Ottoman culture, language and the inner workings of their empire and was able to reconcile with his old rival.
As the Ottoman incursion swept further into the Balkans, Hungary turned its attention towards Serbia and moved the bulk of their forces to fight on that front. Vlad used this opportunity to gather his forces and march on Wallachia. He was able to overpower the defenses there and reclaim his birthright.
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Vlad found Wallachia to be in a poor state. Constant wars had plagued his lands. Crime had risen, trade had slowed to almost nothing and his people lived in poverty and need. He took drastic and harsh measures to restore order and the economy of his lands.
Vlad passed new laws for punishing criminals and to strengthen Wallachia’s economy. He began to strengthen the army and quell dissent among the other nobles. Vlad would host dinner parties and invite Wallachian nobles to feasts at his castle. When everyone was comfortable and the feast well under way he would summon his guards and have his guests executed. It soon became known what a dinner invitation from Vlad Dracula meant.
The sultan of the Ottoman empire sent messengers to Wallachia to demand tribute which was well overdue. When the messengers refused to remove their turbans in his presence he ordered the turbans nailed to their heads as punishment.when news of this reached the Ottoman sultan, he was outraged and began sending the first of many attacks on Vlad’s kingdom.
Vlad and his army defended Walachia from many Ottoman attacks and became well known for his tactics. He would order his fallen enemies impaled on the battlefield to strike fear into the hearts of those who would come to meet him next. After many failed attempts at retaking Wallachia for the Ottoman empire, the sultan himself led a massive army to Vlad’s kingdom. But when he reached the forest of bodies impaled from battle months earlier, his army was sickened and disheartened. The sultan turned his army around and led them back home.
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Vlad was hailed as a hero for his victories against the Ottomans. The pope decided to renew efforts to push them back from the Balkans and ordered Matthias Corvinas (son of the king of Hungary) to commission ships and mercenary’s. Corvinas was given 40,000 golden crowns towards that end.
Vlad Dracula (Dracula means son of the dragon) continued to fight the Ottomans without support from Hungary, Corvinas or the pope. His own brother Radu, who upon their fathers death had remained with the Ottomans, converted to Islam and become an accomplished Janissary commander, was able to assemble the boyar lords against Vlad. Vlad was winning battles, but he soon ran out of money to pay his mercenary’s and continue his campaign.
Vlad Dracula went to Hungary to plead the help of his supposed ally Matthias Corvinas. He was met with contempt by Corvinas who had never intended to help him. Corvinas had squandered the gold he received from the pope on his own personal debts and gains. He forged a letter of treason from Vlad Dracula to the Ottoman sultan claiming to ask for a truce thus nullifying the need for Corvinas to continue as he and the pope had planned and allowing him to return to his capital city.
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Vlad was placed in irons and led to prison. Radu was placed on the Throne of Wallachia under Ottoman rule and Vlad spent ten to twelve years in prison. Increasing Ottoman incursions and further unrest led his relatives to plea for his release in 1474.
Radu died suddenly in 1475 and Vlad Dracula declared his third reign in November of 1426. Vlad began to prepare for a reconquest of Wallachia with Hungarian support. His third reign lasted only a little over two months. Vlad Dracula was killed in battle against the Turks. The exact date isn’t known but it is known that by January 10th 1477 Vlad Dracula was no more.
Vlad’s head was cut off and taken to Constantinople and displayed on a spike. His body was unceremoniously buried by his rival and to this day there is debate as to where Vlad Dracula’s final resting place might be.
Vlad Tepes, Vlad III, Vlad Dracula or Vlad the Impaler, whichever name you know him by, there is no doubt he was one of the cruelest men who ever lived. It was said that he boiled children and made the parents eat them before they were impaled. Vlad would set a table beneath his victims and dip his bread in the pools of blood that collected on the table
Vlad placed a golden cup in the city with the orders given for no one to touch the cup. The townsfolk were so afraid of the potential punishment that he would deal out that no-one would entertain the notion of taking it. Most would likely not even look at it or acknowledge its existence. Impalement was the most common punishment for thievery and most other crimes committed in Wallachia.
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Vlad Dracula, love him, hate him, either way, most know who he is. Vlad II is most definitely one of history’s rock stars.