Vlad III Dracul
Prince of Wallachia
member of the House of Drăculești
also known by his patronymic name: Dracula
posthumously dubbed Vlad the Impaler
was a three-time Voivode of Wallachia
ruled mainly from 1456 to 1462
revered as a folk hero in Romania as well as other parts of Europe for his
protection of the Romanian population
His father, Vlad II Dracul, was a member of the Order of the Dragon,
which was founded to protect Christianity in Eastern Europe.
Vlad's father was the son of the celebrated Voivode Mircea the Elder.
His mother is unknown, though at the time his father is believed to have
been married to Princess Cneajna of Moldavia.
His father kept a number of mistresses.
<-Order of the Dragon
Vlad II Dracul->
Vlad was born in Sighișoara, Transylvania, Kingdom of Hungary (today
part of Romania).
He had two older half-brothers, Mircea II and Vlad Călugărul, and a
younger brother, Radu III the Handsome.
Vlad and Radu spent their early formative years in Sighișoara.
During the first reign of their father, Vlad II Dracul, the Voivode brought
his young sons to Târgoviște.
at Târgoviște, the sons of boyars and ruling princes were well-educated by
Romanian or Greek scholars commissioned from Constantinople.
Vlad is believed to have learned combat skills, geography, mathematics,
science, languages (Old Church Slavonic, German, Latin), and the
classical arts and philosophy.
Life in Edirne
Vlad II also sent his two legitimate sons, Vlad and Radu cel Frumos, to
the Ottoman court, to serve as hostages of his loyalty. After the death of
Vlad II Dracul, Radu cel Frumos converted to Islam and entered the
service of the Ottoman court.
During his years as hostage, Vlad was educated in logic, the Quran and
the Turkish language and works of literature.
He and his brother were also trained in warfare and riding horses.
Vlad Dracul, was awarded the support of the Ottomans and returned to
Wallachia and took back his throne from Basarab II and some unfaithful
In October 2011, Prince Charles publicly claimed that
he is a descendant of Vlad the Impaler.
The claim accompanied his announcement of a pledge
to help conserve the forested areas of Transylvania.
First reign and exile
In December 1447, boyars in league with the Hungarian regent John Hunyadi
rebelled against Vlad II Dracul and killed him in the marshes near Bălteni.
Mircea II of Wallachia, Dracul's eldest son and heir, was blinded and buried
alive at Târgoviște.
To prevent Wallachia from falling into the Hungarian fold, the Ottomans
invaded Wallachia and put young Vlad III on the throne. However, this rule
was short-lived as Hunyadi himself now invaded Wallachia and restored his ally
Vladislav II, of the Dănești clan, to the throne.
Vlad fled to Moldavia, where he lived under the protection of his uncle, Bogdan
In October 1451, Bogdan was assassinated and Vlad fled to Hungary.
Impressed by Vlad's vast knowledge of the mindset and inner workings of the
Ottoman Empire as well as his hatred of the new sultan Mehmed II, Hunyadi
reconciled with his former rival and made him his advisor.
After the Fall of Constantinople to Mehmed II in 1453, Ottoman influence
began to spread from this base through the Carpathians. Vlad's rule thus falls
entirely within the three decades of the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans.
In 1456, three years after the Ottomans had conquered Constantinople.
Hunyadi began a concerted counter-attack in Serbia: while he himself moved
into Serbia and relieved the siege Vlad led his own contingent into Wallachia,
reconquered his native land and killed Vladislav II in hand-to-hand combat.
Vlad found Wallachia in a wretched state: constant war had resulted in
rampant crime, falling agricultural production, and the virtual
disappearance of trade.
He took measures to help the peasants' well-being by building new
villages and raising agricultural output. He understood the importance of
trade for the development of Wallachia. He helped the Wallachian
merchants by limiting foreign merchant trade to three market towns:
Târgșor, Câmpulung and Târgoviște.
The army was also strengthened.
Vlad Dracula built a church at Târgșor.
Raids into Transylvania:
Since the Wallachian nobility was allied with the Transylvanian Saxons,
Vlad also acted against them by eliminating their trade privileges and
raiding their resident castles.
War with the Ottomans:
In 1459, Pope Pius II called for a new crusade against the Ottomans, at the Congress of
Mantua. In this crusade, the main role was to be played by Matthias Corvinus, son of the
King of Hungary. Vlad allied himself with Matthias Corvinus, with the hope of keeping the
Ottomans out of the country.
Later that year, in 1459, Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II sent envoys to Vlad to urge him to
pay a delayed tribute of 10,000 ducats and 500 recruits into the Ottoman forces. Vlad
refused, because if he had paid the 'tribute', as the tax was called at the time, it would
have meant a public acceptance of Wallachia as part of the Ottoman Empire. Vlad, just
like most of his predecessors and successors, had as a primary goal to keep Wallachia as
independent as possible.
Sultan received intelligence reports that revealed Vlad's domination of the Danube. He
sent the Bey of Nicopolis, Hamza Pasha, to make peace and, if necessary, eliminate Vlad
III.Vlad Țepeș planned to set an ambush. Vlad launched a surprise attack. The
Wallachians had the Turks surrounded and defeated.
In the winter of 1462, Vlad crossed the Danube and devastated the entire Bulgarian land
in the area between Serbia and the Black Sea. Disguising himself as a Turkish Sipahi and
utilizing the fluent Turkish he had learned as a hostage, he infiltrated and destroyed
Sultan Mehmed II raised an army of around 60,000 troops and 30,000 irregulars, and in
spring of 1462 headed towards Wallachia. Commanding at best only 30,000 to 40,000
men (depending of the source), Vlad was unable to stop the Ottomans from crossing the
Danube on June 4, 1462 and entering Wallachia. He constantly organized small attacks
and ambushes on the Turks, such as The Night Attack when 15,000 Turks were killed.
Mehmed II then crossed the Danube. exception of some Turkish references all the other
chronicles at the time that mention the 1462 campaign state that the Sultan was
his campaign had saved them from an attack of some 300 ships that the sultan planned
to send against them.
Vlad's younger brother Radu cel Frumos and his Janissary battalions were given the task
of leading the Ottoman Empire to victory at all expense by Sultan Mehmed II. The few
remaining Sipahi were killed in a night raid by Vlad III in 1462. As the war raged on,
Radu and his formidable Janissary battalions were well supplied with a steady flow of
gunpowder and dinars. Radu and his well-equipped forces finally besieged Poenari Castle,
the famed lair of Vlad III. After his difficult victory Radu was given the title Bey of
Wallachia by Sultan Mehmed II.
By 8 September, Vlad had won another three victories, but continuous war had left him
without any money and he could no longer pay his mercenaries. Vlad traveled to
Hungary to ask for help from his former ally, Matthias Corvinus. Instead of receiving
help, he found himself arrested and thrown into the dungeon for high treason.
Corvinus, not planning to get involved in a war after having spent the Papal money
meant for it on personal expenses, forged a letter from Vlad III to the Ottomans where
he supposedly proposed a peace with them, to give an explanation for the Pope and a
reason to abandon the war and return to his capital.
Captivity in Hungary:
Vlad was imprisoned at Oratia, a fortress located at Podu Dâmboviței Bridge. A period of
imprisonment in Visegrád near Buda followed, where the Wallachian prince was held for
10 years. Then he was imprisoned in Buda.
Radu's openly pro-Ottoman policy as voivode probably contributed to Vlad's
rehabilitation. Moreover, Ștefan cel Mare, Voivode of Moldavia and relative of Vlad
intervened on his behalf to be released from prison as the Ottoman pressure on the
territories north of the Danube was increasing.
Third reign and death
After Radu's sudden death in 1475, Vlad III declared his third reign in 26
Vlad began preparations for the reconquest of Wallachia in 1476 with
Vlad's third reign had lasted little more than two months when he was
killed in battle against the Turks.
The exact date of his death is unknown, presumably 31st of October or
the end of December 1476, but it is known that he was dead by 10
The exact location of his death is also unknown, but it would have been
somewhere along the road between Bucharest and Giurgiu.
Vlad's head was taken to Constantinople as a trophy, and his body was
buried unceremoniously by his rival, Basarab Laiota, possibly at Comana,
a monastery founded by Vlad in 1461.
Most Romanian historians today favor the Comana monastery as the final
resting place for Vlad Țepeș.
'The Impaler' suggests, his practice of impaling his enemies is part of his
The name of the vampire Count Dracula in Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula
was inspired by Vlad's patronymic.
In 1459, he had several Saxon settlers of Brașov (Kronstadt) impaled.
Vlad had the Turkish envoys killed on the pretext that they had refused to
raise their "hats" to him, by nailing their turbans to their heads.
Hamza Pasha, the Bey of Nicopolis, brought with him 1000 cavalry and when
passing through a narrow pass north of Giurgiu. The Turks' plans were
thwarted and almost all of them caught and impaled, with Hamza Pasha
impaled on the highest stake to show his rank.
Even during his lifetime, Vlad III Țepeș became famous as a tyrant taking
sadistic pleasure in torturing and killing.
He is shown in crypto-portraits made during his lifetime in the role of cruel
rulers or executioners.
After Vlad's death, his cruel deeds were reported with macabre gusto in
popular pamphlets in Germany, reprinted from the 1480s until the 1560s, and
to a lesser extent in Tsarist Russia. As an example of how Vlad Țepeș soon
became iconic for all horrors unimaginable, the following pamphlet from 1521
pours out putative incidents like this one (sic):He roasted children, whom he
fed to their mothers. And (he) cut off the breasts of women, and forced their
husbands to eat them. After that, he had them all impaled.
Estimates of the number of his victims range from 40,000 to 100,000.
According to the German stories the number of victims he had killed was
at least 80,000. In addition to the 80,000 victims mentioned he also had
whole villages and fortresses destroyed and burned to the ground.
Impalement was Vlad's preferred method of torture and execution.
Several woodcuts from German pamphlets of the late 15th and early 16th
centuries show Vlad feasting in a forest of stakes and their grisly burdens
outside Brașov, while a nearby executioner cuts apart other victims.
It was reported that an invading Ottoman army turned back in fright when
it encountered thousands of rotting corpses on the banks of the Danube.
It has also been said that in 1462 Mehmed II, the conqueror of
Constantinople, a man noted for his own psychological warfare tactics and
the impalement of subjugated peoples in the Ottoman Empire, returned to
Constantinople after being sickened by the sight of 20,000 impaled
corpses outside Vlad's capital of Târgoviște.
Allegedly, Vlad's reputation for cruelty was actively promoted by Matthias
Corvinus, who tarnished Vlad's reputation and credibility for a political
reason: as an explanation for why he had not helped Vlad fight the
Ottomans in 1462, for which purpose he had received money from most
Catholic states in Europe. Matthias employed the charges of Southeastern
Transylvania, and produced fake letters of high treason, written on 7
The connection of the name "Dracula" with vampirism was made by Bram
Stoker, who probably found the name of his Count Dracula character in
William Wilkinson's book, An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and
Moldavia: with various Political Observations Relating to Them. It is
known that Stoker made notes about this book. It is also suggested that
Stoker may have been made aware of the reputation of Vlad through an
acquaintance of his, Hungarian professor Ármin Vámbéry from Budapest.
The fact that character Dr. Abraham Van Helsing states in the 1897 novel
that the source of his knowledge about Count Dracula is his friend
Arminius appears to support this hypothesis, although there is no specific
evidence that Stoker and Vambéry ever discussed Wallachian history.
Referring to a letter from his friend Arminius, van Helsing comments:
He must, indeed, have been that Voivode Dracula who won his name
against the Turk, over the great river on the very frontier of Turkey-land.
(Chapter 18, pp 145)
This encourages the reader to identify the Vampire Count with the
Voivode Dracula first mentioned by him, the one betrayed by his own
brother: Vlad III Dracula betrayed by his brother Radu the Handsome.