Vlad the Impaler Conquers Walachia… Again

“On this day in 1476, Vlad III, otherwise known by his more alarming monikers, Vlad the Impaler or Dracula, re-conquered Walachia, in what is now Romania. Vlad’s life was essentially an endless series of military campaigns–against the Ottomans, the local boyars, and even his younger brother–and his particular way of dealing with opponents gained him the considerable fame that continues today.

Vlad is still a great folk hero in his native Transylvania, a region north of the Romanian capital Bucharest, for his success in the 15th century against the powerful Ottomans. His father, Vlad II or Vlad Dracul, was a viovode (meaning leader of warriors, but generally translated as duke) of Walachia–a large region that includes Bucharest and makes up roughly a third of present-day Romania. The name Dracul, it should be noted, was earned from his induction to the Order of the Dragon, an order, founded by the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund, dedicated to nobles who fought the so-called enemies of Christ–in particular the Muslim Ottomans. Dracula, his son’s nickname, is the patronymic–meaning “”son of Dracul.””

In 1442, the young Vlad and his brother were sent to the court of the Ottoman Sultan to ensure that their father would uphold Ottoman policies in Walachia. Five years after, Vlad’s father and his older brother were assassinated by the local boyars (or nobles). Upon his return the following year, in 1448, Vlad III learned of their death and began his military campaigns to regain his father’s title and, of course, reap his revenge. Records of the subsequent cruelty of Vlad’s military methods are generally thought to have been inflated, however there is little doubt that he much deserved his nickname, Vlad the Impaler.

Vlad had a particularly sharp sense of vengeance and he developed a hideous habit of impaling his enemies on large stakes. In the most famous instance of Vlad’s preferred tactic, in 1462, he was said to have impaled thousands of victims on the banks of the Danube River to intimidate his Ottoman enemies. Their corpses were left slumped on stakes for the Ottoman forces to discover.

His story has always proved popular and texts began appearing while he was still alive. As early as the late 15th century, German stories about Vlad the Impaler were reportedly highly circulated–a “”best seller”” of the day. The stories were also hugely popular in Russia, where he was seen in a slightly more favourable light. It is also thought that Vlad was the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s great Gothic novel Dracula.

Regardless of the narrative, it seems, Vlad still manages to spike our interest.”

Credit: Alamy A9GAKE
Caption: A man of many monikers, Vlad Tepes became an almost mythical figure even during his lifetime due to his military tactics.