Vlad the Dracula was one of the most respected rulers of Wallachia. His name had its origin in the cognomen of his father. His father was called “Dracul,” which means “dragon” or “Dracula” in Romanian. Vlad’s father took the name Dracul when he joined the Order of the Dragon, a Christian group opposed to the Ottoman dominance in Europe. Vlad III took the name Dracula, which means “son of the dragon.” In modern Romanian, the word “drac” refers to the “devil”.
He was born around 1425–1430 in Transylvania, which today is modern Romania. Vlad the Impaler was the legitimate son of Vlad II, who was himself the illegitimate son of Mircea I of Wallachia. The real identity of Vlad’s mother is somewhat unclear, but she’s believed to have been a Moldavian princess. Modern historians identify Vlad’s mother as a daughter or kinswoman of Alaxender I of Moldavia. Vlad the Impaler had been married twice. His first wife was an illegitimate daughter of John Hyundai. His second wife was Justina Szilagyi, probably in 1475, after the death of his first wife. He had three sons.
During the time of Vlad the Impaler, Wallachia was in continuous war. The Ottomans were at war with the Hungarians.His father, Vlad II, was initially on the side of the Hungarian empire until the death of the king in 1443.
The Ottoman sultan Murad II asked Vlad II to come to Turkey for a diplomatic meeting in 1442. Vlad the Dracula also accompanied his father with his seven-year-old brother named “Radu.” But in reality, it was a trap. They were arrested by the Ottomans and held hostage. Vlad II was released under the condition that he would leave his sons behind.
The sultan held Vlad III and his brother hostage in order to ensure that Vlad II remained loyal to the ottomans during the ongoing Ottoman-Hungarian war.
Under the patronage of the Ottomans, Vlad and his younger brother, whose name was Radu, received education in science, art, and philosophy. Along with this, both brothers had acquired good knowledge of the Arabic, Persian, and Turkish languages. Vlad III became a skilled horseman as well as a warrior. The ottomans were teaching their culture to Vlad III and his younger brother so that they could remain loyal to the ottomans when the time came. Vlad’s younger brother was so impressed with Islam that he later converted to Islam.
Vlad’s father died in November 1447. When Mehmet II learned about the death of Vlad’s father, he released Vlad and ordered him to go to Romania so that he could take care of his father’s legacy. But as soon as he reached Romania, the devil inside him woke up. Vlad III also broke the agreement that his father had with the Ottomans. Everyone was afraid to raise their voice against him.
Vlad, the impaler’s favourite method of execution
He was named “Impaler” for his preferred form of torture. He used to hang people after killing them with a sharp wooden or metal pole inserted through the genitals and into the victim’s mouth, shoulders, or neck.It could take the victim 3 days to die using this method, and sometimes the pole would go all the way through the body and come out of the mouth. According to legend, Vlad the Impaler once did this to 20,000 people and sat there watching them die and enjoying his meal.
The War Against the Ottoman Empire
When an Ottoman convoy passed through Romania, they reminded Vlad of his father’s agreement with the Ottomans.The treaty stipulated that Romania would pay annual taxes to the Ottoman Empire.The Ottoman convoy asked Vlad to continue that treaty. But Dracula refused to accept this and asked them to first remove their turbans and then enter his court. The ottoman convoy considered this an insult and refused to participate.Dracula then ordered that iron rods be placed in the heads of those in the ottoman convoy.When Mehmet the Conqueror learned about this situation, he decided to attack Vlad the Impaler and sent an army towards Romania.
Since Vlad had lived with the ottomans for a long time, he was well aware of their weaknesses, so he defeated the ottoman army very easily. He then ordered that they be hung in sharp woods, as was his custom.
Now worried about this, Mehmet II again sent a large army against Vlad the Impaler under the leadership of Vlad’s younger brother Radu, who had converted to Islam. When this large army reached Romania, they found the dead bodies of about 30,000 soldiers. Some of them were still alive.
A fierce battle ensued between the Ottoman Empire and Vlad’s army, in which Vlad was defeated, arrested, and then sent to the Ottoman capital. But in the meantime, Radu died mysteriously, after which a civil war broke out in Romania and the situation got worse enough that Vlad had to be released due to the chaos in Romania. But after his release from captivity, Vlad again began to show his cruelty. Now that Vlad had become a thorn in the side of the Ottoman empire, Mehmet attacked Vlad once more with a large army.During this battle, an ottoman soldier shot an arrow straight through Vlad’s neck, killing him instantly.
Everyone involved in this bloodshed was killed by the ottomans, and the dead body of Dracula was hung in the wood as he used to do with his enemies. That’s how Vlad’s cruel rule came to an end.
As a National Hero of Romania
Vlad had a strong hatred for the Ottoman Empire and Muslims. But Romanians love him and consider him a national hero of Romania. Romanians love him because he stood up against the Ottoman Empire and also stopped the criminals by issuing cruel punishment. Romanian poet Mihai Eminescu penned a poem in the 19th century calling on Vlad to once again save his country and separate the madmen and thieves from the good and honest folk.
The origins of Bram Stoker’s Dracula
It is believed that Stoker based the title character of his 1897 novel “Dracula” on Vlad the Impaler. Dracula is a novel by Bram Stoker, who was an Irish author. Dracula successively became the most significant work of gothic horror literature because it was the perfect texture of the fear and desires of the era.