Enjoy the story of Vlad The Impaler and the legends who gave him the name of Dracula.
How he spent his childhood being a hostage, how he took the throne of Wallachia, then being exiled and witness of his brother's death.Then you will find out how he punished the boyards and the unfaithful by impaling them and letting them die in agony, by burning thousands of turks alive, hanging or decapitating them.You will also read about the grizzly image of a forest full of dead bodies and many other stories about the cruel Dracula.
And last, but not least, where has his body dissapeared?
Dracula, one of the most famous characters in the world, is always linked to Romania, more precisely, with Transilvania (a Romanian province), which is believed to be a foggy mysterious land, with lots of vampires and castles. Noone will ever forget this romantic vampire, sometimes bloody, sometimes lonely, but everytime restless.
No other place is so easily identified with vampires, phantoms and bloody scenes as Transylvania. Bram Stoker made this area famous by making it the homeland of his fictional character Dracula noone else than the historical figure of Transilvania, Vlad Tepes. Transylvania is the territory in central Romania, in fact, it's the largest territory in the country. It's surrounded on three sides by the Carpathian mountains.
The legend of this famous Dracula has its starting point in a historical character, who played a very important role in the 15th century in this part of the world. Those times, Henry the 6-th and the englishman were fighting in the War of the Roses, when in Hungary was king the famous Romanian king Matei Corvin, and when Mahomed the 2-nd was frightening the Christian Europe.
Several reasons were put together in order to transform the ruler of Wallachia (another Romanian province) in the bloody vampire of today.
The real history tells us that Vlad the Impaler ( Vlad Tepes ) ruled in Wallachia for three times (1448; 1456-1462; 1476), the last reign being finished with his death. Let`s not forget that in that times the rulers came to the throne and left it, according to the interests and the support of the boyars and of the Turks, too.
Vlad The Impaler was born in Sighisoara, in the year 1431, in the house where his father, Vlad the 2nd Dracul (also a ruler of Wallachia) had lived for 5 year (from 1431 to 1435). That house still exists today, as a restaurant, but it has kept some parts of the old mediaeval paintings. Vlad the 2nd (the Impaler`s father) was a knight of the Dragon`s order, founded by Sigismund of Luxembourg for fighting against the Turks. The members of this order used to wear at the neck a medallion representing a dragon. The people, not being used to the image of the dragon, nicknamed the ruler "Vlad with the devil"and then "Vlad the Devil" (Vlad Dracul). In the Romanian language the words "dragon" and "devil" ("drac") are very similar. So, Vlad the Impaler was named "Draculea" and then "Dracula", meaning "the son of Dracul".
In the childhood, for about 6 years, from 1442 to 1448, Vlad and his brother Radu were hostages of the Turks. But in 1447 their father, Vlad Dracul was murdered at the order of Iancu of Hunedoara, ruler of Transylvania, who imposed another ruler for Wallachia, called Vladislav the 2nd. The year 1448 is the year of Vlad the Impaler`s first reign. Returned in the country, he took the throne of Wallachia, but only for a short period of time (2 months), as Vladislav the 2nd came back with an army in order to take back the throne. An exile period came next for Vlad, who wandered in Moldavia and Transylvania from 1448 to 1456. The years spent at the Turks, the years of exile, but the death of his father and elder brother (Mircea, buried alive) also, influenced his personality for ever.
Dracula's main reign stretched from 1456 to 1462. His capital was the city of Tirgoviste while his castle was raised some distance away in the mountains near the Arges River , the Poienari Castle.His first wife committed suicide by leaping from the towers of this castle into the waters of the Arges River rather than surrender to the Turks.After that Dracula was arrested and imprisoned in a royal tower near Buda. Vlad remained a prisoner for twelve years.
During his captivity Dracula also renounced the Orthodox faith and adopted Catholicism. It is interesting to note that the Russian narrative, normally very favorable to Dracula, indicates that even in captivity he could not give up his favorite past-time; he often captured birds and mice which he proceeded to torture and mutilate, some were beheaded or tarred-and-feathered and released, most were impaled on tiny spears.
That period Dracula managed to marry a member of the Hungarian royal family and have two sons who were about ten years old when he reconquered Wallachia in 1476.It is here to mention the strange similitude with the Hungarian contess Elizebeth Bathory ( the Blood Countess) who's cousin, Stephan Bathory would one day become a prince in Transylvania.
Was the Blood Countess Dracula's wife?Was she his mistress?...
In 1456, with help from Transylvania, it seems, Vlad the Impaler returned to rule Wallachia. His home policy was based on an idea which can be found in a letter written to the merchants from the city of Brasov: "When a man or a ruler is powerful and respected (inside the country), he can do the peace however he wants it, but when he has no power, a more powerful one will come over him and he`ll do whatever he`ll want with him". In order to impose the honesty and the justice as values, Vlad used the impaling punishment. He didn`t only impale thieves, but he also impaled the unfaithful and dishonest boyars and obviously, the Turks. This punishment who brought this nickname for Vlad wasn`t though invented by the Romanians. It was very typical for those mediaeval times, characterized by cruelty and torture. The victims were tied with the hands and feet spread and a pale was sticked through their rectum. They were then lifted and let to die in agony. If Vlad had applied this punishment only to the Turks, so to the pagans, maybe it wouldn`t have seemed so unusual. Anyway, the fact that he used to impale not only the Turks, but the Christians also, was a real shock for those times.
The moment when Vlad revenged the death of his brother and father became famous. In the first Easter day of the year 1459 he impaled some of the boyars and he forced the rest of them to work at the building of the Poienari fortress. Another story tells how Vlad killed in the same way about 500 boyars, who have lived during more than 7 reigns, punishing them for their infidelity and treason proved like this. The beggars weren`t spared either. They were called at a feast in the city of Targoviste (the capital of Wallachia in those times) and asked if they want to be released from the difficulties of life. As the answer was affirmative, Vlad burnt them all, so none of them won`t suffer anymore.
In these conditions, the thefts weren`t so common in Wallachia. It is even said that in those times a golden cup could have been left near a fountain and nobody would have taken it. A legend goes that a merchant who was passing through Wallachia asked Vlad for protection. The ruler assured him that nothing bad would happen. As 160 golden coins had disappeared after the first night, the merchant complained to Vlad. The ruler caught the thief and impaled him, returning the money to the trader. He didn`t return 160, but 161 coins. The merchant saw that and said that he received one more golden coin. Then Vlad said to him that if he hadn`t told the truth, he also would have been impaled for fraud.
Very special relations were between Vlad the Impaler and the Saxon merchants from the cities of Sibiu and Brasov. The Saxons were brought in the south of Transylvania in the 12th and 13th centuries, in order to defend the borders with Wallachia, but also for colonizing the lands. Famous merchants, they had always benefited of commercial privileges. But in the year 1459 Vlad began a policy of protecting the merchants from Wallachia, which caused the conflict with the Saxons. This conflict was stressed by the fact that the Saxons always supported other claimants to the throne of Wallachia. One of these claimants, Dan the 3rd, was forced by Vlad to dig his own grave and then was beheaded and thrown into it. In his campaign against the merchants from Brasov, Vlad burnt the city and impaled them on the hills around.
The battle against the Turks began in 1459 with Vlad`s refusal to pay the requested tribute. More than this, the Impaler fixed by nails the Turkish messengers` turbans on their head, as they didn`t want to uncover themselves, saying that it was forbidden by their religion.
The alliance with Mattia Corvin, king of Hungary, played a very important role for Vlad. In the winter of 1461-1462, he organized a surprise campaign in the south of Danube, during which more than 20.000 Turks were killed, impalled and hang up in a forest forming a terrifying image of thousands of dead bodies. In his letter to Mattia Corvin, the Impaler enumerated with a macabre accuracy the burnt places, but the number of victims also: 23.884 exactly, without counting "the ones burnt alive in their houses or the ones whose heads weren`t presented to my officers". The reply came quickly. In the spring of 1462, the sultan Mehmed the 2nd crossed the Danube with a 60.000 soldiers army (almost the double of the army which Vlad had at his disposal) and went directly to Targoviste. The famous night attack of the Impaler`s army happened in June, this attack causing panic in the Turkish camp, making them retire.
Bran Castle is said to be Dracula's Castle but this is not true.The real Dracula Castle, now in ruins, is located on the Arges River and it's the Poienari Fortress.Bran Castle was used by Vlad as headquarters for his incursions into Transilvania.Before Vlad, the castle had been used as a fortress and taken over by the Saxons in order to protect the city of Brasov, that was an important trade center.
Vlad`s decline was due to a fake letter, written most probably by the Saxon merchants, letter which "proved" the ties between the Impaler and the Turks. Thus Vlad was accused of treason and arrested at the order of Mattia Corvin. There was also another reason for which the Hungarian king acted like this. In the winter of 1462, Vlad had asked for help from Mattia Corvin, who had received money from the Pope in that purpose. So, the accusing and arresting of the Wallachian ruler hid also the fact that Mattia Corvin didn`t help Vlad, but didn`t return the money received for the Crusade either. Between 1462 and 1474 Vlad the Impaler was prisoner at Visegrad and Pesta. Moreover, his defamation began. "The German stories", spread by Mattia Corvin and the Saxon merchants would create a bloody and cruel image of Vlad in all the Western Europe.
In 1475, after the intervention of Stephan the Great (the Moldavian ruler),, Vlad was released and he returned in 1476 on the throne of Wallachia. It would only last one month, as he was killed in December, after a conspiracy of the boyars.Then Vlad was buried at the Snagov monastery (only the body, as the head had been taken to the Turks, at Constantinopol), but the archaeological research from 1930s only discovered some horse bones.Where is his body be haunting right now?