Vlad Dracul III – Vlad The Impaler
Vlad III Dracul, (1431-1476) Vlad Dracula, in Romanian Vlad Țepeș, also known as Vlad the Impaler, was born in November or December of 1431 in the Transylvanian city of Sighisoara a central region of modern-day Romania. Vlad was the second of four brothers born into the noble family of Vlad II Dracul. In 1431, King Sigismund of Hungary, who would later become the Holy Roman Emperor, inducted the elder Vlad into a knightly order, the Order of the Dragon. This designation earned Vlad II a new surname: Dracul. the Order of the Dragon, created by Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund for the defense of Christian Europe against the Islamic Ottoman Empire.
In 1444 at the young age of 13, Vlad and his brother Radu traveled with their father to a diplomatic meeting to Adrianople with Sultan Murad II. But the meeting was actually a trap and were held hostages. The elder Vlad was released but he had to leave his sons behind to appease the Sultan and with the condition that he would’nt intefere in the war between the Turks and Hungary. During his years as hostage, Vlad was educated in scienece, philosophy the Turkish language as well as the Quran and other works of literature. He would speak this language fluently in his later years. He and his brother were also trained in warfare and horsemanship. Vlad was defiant and resentful towards his captors and was punished for his impudence.Vlad was angry and resentful being in the hands of the Turks and this traumatic experiences may have made him into the sadistic man he grew up to be, especially in regards to his penchant for impaling.
In 1447, Vlad II was ousted as ruler of Wallachia by local noblemen (boyars) and was killed along with Vlads older brother Mircea, while he and his younger brother Radu were still being hel captive by the Ottoman Turks. In 1448 Vlad was released by the Turks, who supported him as their candidate for the Wallachian throne. Vlad’s younger brother Radu The Handsome apparently chose to remain in Turkey, where he had grown up. Not long after his release Vlad embarked on a campaign to regain his father’s seat from the new ruler Wallachia. Vlad won back his father’s seat, but his time as ruler of Wallachia was short-lived he was deposed after only two months, by Vladislav II.
Vlad established his capitol city of Tirgoviste and build his castle in the mountains near the Arges River. Most of the atrocities associated with Vlad III took place during this time. Vlad III’s political and military tack truly came to the forefront amid the fall of Constantinople in 1453. After the fall, the Ottomans were in a position to invade all of Europe. In 1459, Pope Pius II called for a new crusade against the Ottomans Turks mainly played by Janos Hunyadi king of Hungary. Later that year Ottoman Sultan Mehmet 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 and 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.
Later, the Sultan received intelligence reports that revealed Vlad’s domination of the Danube. He sent the Bey of Nicopolis, Hamza Bey to make peace and, if necessary, eliminate Vlad III. But Vlad Țepeș planned to set an ambush. Hamza Bey, the Bey of Nicopolis, brought with him 1000 cavalry and when passing through a narrow pass north of Giurgiu, Vlad launched a surprise attack, his forces surrounded the Turks and defeated them. The Turks’ plans were thwarted and most of them were caught and impaled, with Hamza Bey impaled on the highest stake to show his rank.
In the 1462, Vlad crossed the Danube and devastated the entire Bulgarian lands between Serbia and the Black Sea. He killed 23,000 Turks without counting those whom he burned in homes or the Turks whose heads were cut by his soldiers. In response to this, Sultan Mehmet II raised an army of around 60,000 troops and 30,000 irregulars, and in spring of 1462 headed towards Wallachia. When Ottomans crossed the Danube on June 4, 1462 Vlad organized a night attack that killed 15,000 Ottoman Turks. An infuriated Mehmet II crossed the danube river but Mehmet the coquerer of constantinople and his Ottoman army turned back in fright when it encountered thousands of rotting corpses impaled on the other side of the danube in what is now known as”the Forest of the Impaled.”
Vlad the Impaler’s attacks were celebrated in wallachia and by the Pope and the Saxon cities of Transylvania, as well as in the italian states. Not lonag after Vlad’s victory and impalement of the Ottoman Turks it was short-lived and he soon withdrew to Moldavia leaving behind detachments in Wallachia that were overrun by the Ottoman Sipahi commander. In August 1462, Vlad was forced into exile and his first wife committed suicide by leaping from the towers of Vlad’s castle into the waters of the Arges River rather than surrender to the Turks. Vlad escaped through a secret passage and fled across the mountains into Transylvania in unable to defeat his much more powerful adversary, Mehmet II. Vlad was imprisoned for a number of years in Hungary.
In 1466 Vlad was released and re-married Ilona Szilágyi had two children. Around 1475 Vlad began his reconquest of Wallachia with István Báthory of Transylvania, with mixed forces of Transylvanians, and Hungarian support, some dissatisfied Wallachian boyars, and Moldavians sent by Prince Stephen III of Moldavia. When Vlad’s army arrived, Prince Basarab’s army fled, some to the Turks, others in the mountains. After placing Vlad on the throne, Stephen Báthory and his forces returned to Transylvania, leaving Vlad in a very weak position. Vlad had little time to get support he was forced to march and meet the Turks with less than four thousand men before the large Turkish army entered Wallachia.
In 1476 Vlad marched into to batlle and was ambushed with his small army. There are many accounts to vlads death some sources say he was assassinated by disloyal Wallachian boyars, others have him falling in defeat, surrounded by the ranks of his loyal Moldavian bodyguard. Other reports claim that Vlad was accidentally killed by one of his own men. The one undisputed fact is that he was decapitated by the Turks and his head sent to Constantinople preserved in honey where the sultan had it displayed on a stake as proof that Vlad the Impaler was finally dead. He was reportedly buried at Snagov, an island monastery located near Bucharest
Vlad the impalers reputation in Western Europe was considered dark and he was characterized as a tyrant who tortured and killed about 100,000 of his enemies including women and children. In Eastern Europe and Especially in Romania he is considered a hero a true leader, who used harsh yet fair methods to reclaim the country from the corrupt and rich boyars. Moreover for his military campaigns against the Ottoma Turks who wanted to conquer Wallachia and all of Eastern Europe.